Ireland coach Declan Kidney has confirmed the starting line-up and replacements for the RBS 6 Nations Championship game against France on Saturday. Stephen Ferris has been passed fit to play and has been named in the team at blindside flanker.
Flanker Stephen Ferris has come through training today and will take his place in the back row alongside David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.
Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton said: “Kevin McLaughlin played fantastically well last week, but Stephen is a top player, he’s a Lion. He ran well in training this week, so he’s looking big and strong and fit.”
Forwards coach Gert Smal added: “I think that Kevin did very well against Italy, in terms of his physicality. But that’s one of Stephen’s strengths too.
“Stephen’s a very good ball carrier, his defence is very good. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with those areas for Kevin, I think Kevin did outstandingly well for his first game.
“But it’s nice to know that you’ve got those choices going into the future.”
The replacements for the game have also been finalised with Rory Best, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan and Sean O’Brien named as forwards cover.
Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton and Paddy Wallace are selected as back-line cover.
Ireland second row Donncha O’Callaghan, meanwhile, will continue his injury recovery with the Munster squad as part of their week-long warm weather training camp in Lanzarote.
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v France, RBS 6 Nations Championship, Stade de France, Saturday, February 13, kick-off 5.30pm local time/4.30pm Irish time):
15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
9 – Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
3 – John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
4 – Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)
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 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 – Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
20 – Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
22 – Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)