Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named his first ever Ireland team for an RBS 6 Nations game, Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll and Paddy Wallace will start together in the centre for the first time in the competition’s history.
Brian O’Driscoll and Paddy Wallace started together in the midfield during the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia in 2008 and will rekindle that link for the first time at home.
Robert Kearney is selected at full-back and his Leinster colleague Luke Fitzgerald is named on the left wing, with Tommy Bowe making up the back-three for the side.
Ronan O’Gara and Tomas O’Leary continue their provincial partnership at out-half and scrum half respectively.
The forwards include Jerry Flannery at hooker. Flannery will pack down in the front row with Marcus Horan and John Hayes, who will be winning his 90th cap for Ireland and making his 45th consecutive appearance in the Six Nations.
Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell start in the second row together for Ireland for the 23rd time.
The back row trio of Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip remain in place from the side that started against Argentina during November.
Ulster’s Tom Court, the only uncapped player in the Ireland panel, will provide prop cover on the replacements bench.
IRELAND TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v France, 2009 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Croke Park, Saturday, February 7, kick-off 5pm):
15 – Robert Kearney (UCD – Leinster)
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD – Leinster) (capt)
12 – Paddy Wallace (Ballymena – Ulster)
11 – Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College – Leinster)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution – Munster)
9 – Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin – Munster)
1 – Marcus Horan (Shannon – Munster)
2 – Jerry Flannery (Shannon – Munster)
3 – John Hayes (Bruff- Munster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution – Munster)
5 – Paul O’Connell (Young Munster – Munster)
6 – Stephen Ferris (Dungannon – Ulster)
7 – David Wallace (Garryowen – Munster)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Naas – Leinster)
16 – Rory Best (Banbridge – Ulster)
17 – Tom Court (Malone – Ulster)
18 – Malcolm O’Kelly (St. Mary’s College – Leinster)
19 – Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution – Munster)
20 – Peter Stringer (Shannon – Munster)
21 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne – Leinster)
22 – Geordan Murphy (Leicester)
Not considered due to injury:
Keith Earls (Young Munster – Munster)