Ireland make three changes for France
March 5, 2013
Cian Healy starts for Ireland © PA Photos
Ireland boss Declan Kidney has opted to make three changes ahead of Saturday's match against France in Dublin.
Cian Healy, Fergus McFadden and Mike McCarthy all come into the side while Tom Court, Craig Gilroy and Donncha O'Callaghan miss out. Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out as he is still suffering from the injury he sustained against England in round two. But Kidney has not yet confirmed who will play at fly-half with Paddy Jackson, who started against Scotland, currently struggling with a hamstring injury.
If Jackson is passed fit later in the week then he will vie with Ian Madigan for the fly-half spot. But if Jackson fails to prove his fitness then Ronan O'Gara could receive a shock call up to the bench having been previously left out of the training squad for the weekend's match.
"Paddy's chances of pulling through are very good and he should be good to train on Thursday," Kidney said. "We'll make the choice between Paddy and Ian then. I was told just a moment ago that it will be better to give Jonathan Sexton another week to recover. Jonny ran at top speed this morning. It would be easy to put him in against France, but it's better that he builds up his strength for another week."
In the front-row, Healy starts in place of Court after successfully appealing a previous suspension that was set to keep him out of the match. Healy will be joined by McCarthy, who comes in for O'Callaghan, in the pack - while Donncha Ryan passed a late fitness test on a shoulder injury.
In the backs McFadden starts on the flank due to Gilroy's groin strain. Ireland have also not yet confirmed who the substitute tight-head will be with Declan Fitzpatrick missing out due to injury. The replacement fly-half berth has also been left nameless.
Ireland side: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Marshall, Keith Earls, TBC, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Mike McCarthy, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip (Captain)
Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, TBC, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, TBC, Luke Fitzgerald
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