Ireland keep faith in O'Gara
February 9, 2010
Ronan O'Gara has retained the Ireland fly-half jersey © Getty Images
Ronan O'Gara has retained the Ireland No.10 jersey for their vital Six Nations trip to face France at the Stade de France.
Leinster's Jonathan Sexton has been named among a replacements contingent that will be trimmed from nine to seven later in the week, with Paddy Wallace the other fly-half option in the squad.
Keith Earls replaces Andrew Trimble on the wing but Leo Cullen retains a starting spot in the second-row as Donncha O' Callaghan has failed to recovery from injury.
A vacancy has been left at blindside flanker pending further fitness tests for Ulster's Stephen Ferris, with Kevin McLaughlin among the replacements and set to step in should Ferris miss out. Both O'Callaghan and Ferris trained with the squad at the RDS on Tuesday and a final decision on the No.6 jersey will be taken on Thursday.
"Ronan had a very good game against Italy so there was no reason not to play him this week," Kidney said. "Jon has been making a good recovery and the final stage of that should be achieved tomorrow when he goes place kicking. We're in the lucky position of having two good fly-halves and Ronan's experience will be more than helpful going to Paris.
"We'll make a decision as soon as we can with Stephen, but sometimes you don't make a decision until you have to. Donncha trained this morning but just isn't right to take the pitch on Saturday.
"Keith did very well against South Africa last autumn and didn't do anything wrong in December or January. I wanted to give Andrew a go to see how he went last week. He went well but Keith deserves his go now. Andrew tweaked his hamstring and we want to give him full time to recover."
Last weekend's try-scorers Jamie Heaslip and Tomas O'Leary are retained while John Hayes and Brian O'Driscoll both edge closer to a century of Ireland Tests. O'Driscoll will win his 98th cap and Hayes his 99th, with both having topped 100 already with their British & Irish Lions caps taken into consideration.
Ireland: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster); Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), John Hayes (Munster), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Paul O'Connell (Munster), A.N.Other, David Wallace (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: Rory Best (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster)
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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