Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt made seven changes to the side which beat Italy in round three for Sunday’s clash with France at the Aviva Stadium.
In an all-new second-row, James Ryan and Iain Henderson have been handed starting berths for the visit of the French as Ultan Dillane provides the bench cover.
Unfortunately for Munster’s Tadhg Beirne, it means that the wait goes on for his Six Nations debut.
The Munster star has only played one game since he picked up a knee injury against the Exeter Chiefs in January and that was the southern province’s recent Guinness PRO14 win over the Ospreys.
He won man-of-the-match that day as he secured a number of vital turnovers for his side but despite this, he has yet to add to his four international caps, the last of which came against the USA in November.
Schmidt was asked about Beirne’s exclusion during this afternoon’s press conference and he admitted that the Munster lock is still a bit “sore” from the knee injury he suffered in January while wanting to reward Dillane for his impact against Italy also contributed to his decision.
“The second row, as tempted as we were with Tadhg Beirne, he’s been a little bit sore this week as he’s still coming back after injury.
“Ultan Dillane has played really well for us. His tackle count was very high against Italy, the number of positive involvements he was involved in were really good as well so we wanted to reward that performance.”
“He’s [Beirne] just a bit sore. He was in the mix but he’s going to get the weekend off and he’ll come back in fresh to train next week and again, we’ll make some decisions next week.”
Ireland will look to make it three wins on the trot when they take on France at 3 pm on Sunday at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.