The heavy overnight rain is expected to ease as the day goes on but conditions will be wet and windy in Lansdowne Road for this afternoon’s RBS Six Nations clash between Ireland and France
The heavy overnight rain is expected to ease as the day goes on but conditions will be wet and windy in Lansdowne Road for this afternoon’s RBS Six Nations clash between Ireland and France. Gone are the days when Irish teams – and indeed their supporters – would have rejoiced at this type of weather.
This current squad would prefer a dry sod to allow them match the flair of the French, particularly the Irish backline which is generally accepted to be the best in the competition.
However, as Ireland coach, Eddie O’Sullivan pointed out, good teams should be well able to adapt to weather conditions and to the sort of last minute changes that occurred when Girvan Dempsey cried off yesterday (Friday).
The groin injury that rules the defensively sound Leinster man out this game, gives a further opportunity to Geordan Murphy to strut his stuff in his preferred position and brings the ultra versatile John Kelly onto the wing.
It’s an alteration that should have no affect whatsoever on how the Irish perform.
O’Sullivan has asembled a settled squad and these players have been well groomed for a situation such as this. Dempsey will be missed because he has been as safe as houses in defence, particularly under the high ball, but if Murphy settles in early on he has the pace and skill to cause the French the type of grief they normally visit on opposing sides.
The other area of great interest is the front row with Marcus Horan coming in as a replacement for the injured Reggie Corrigan.
What Horan lacks in experience at this level he makes up for with technical nous and natural football ability. Whenever he has been asked to step up to the plate, he has been up to the task, as in his two encounters with Phil Vickery and again the Irish set piece shouldn’t suffer because of this change.
Ireland. Geordan Murphy (Leicester); John Kelly (Munster), Brian O’Driscoll capt(Leinster), Kevin Maggs (Bath), Denis Hickie (Leinster); David Humphreys (Ulster), Peter Stringer (Munster); Anthony Foley (Munster), Keith Gleeson (Leinster), Victor Costello (Leinster), Malcolm O’Kelly (Leinster), Gary Longwell (Ulster), John Hayes (Munster), Shane Byrne (Leinster), Marcus Horan (Munster)
Replacements: Frank Sheahan (Munster), Justin Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Alan Quinlan (Munster), Guy Easterby (Llanelli), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Rob Henderson (Munster).
Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Aurelien Rougerie (Montferrand), Xavier Garbajosa (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Pau), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Francois Gelez (Agen), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Imanol Harinordoquy (Pau), Olivier Magne (Montferrand), Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Olivier Brouzet (Montferrand), Fabien Pelous capt (Toulouse), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais), Raphael Ibanez (Castres), Jean-Jacques Crenca (Agen)
Replacements: Jean-Baptiste Rue (Agen), Christian Califano (Saracens/Eng), David Auradou (Stade Francais), Sebastien Chabal (Bourgoin), Matthieu Barrau (Agen), Gerald Merceron (Montferrand), Thomas Castaignede (Saracens)
Referee: Andre Watson (S Africa).