The Ireland coaching staff have named the team to face France in their final Rugby World Cup Pool D game at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 4.45pm).
Speaking about the team selection, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “We’ve looked at the game this weekend but we also have a game next week, so we have to base our selections on what we need for each challenge.”
Paul O’Connell will captain Ireland in Cardiff and is joined in the second row by Devin Toner, who returns to the side for his 30th Test cap.
The familiar back row combination is made up of Jamie Heaslip at number 8, Sean O’Brien at openside flanker and Peter O’Mahony on the blindside.
Cian Healy, one of three changes from last weekend’s 16-9 win over Italy, starts his first game of the tournament. He links up with Mike Ross and Rory Best in the front row.
Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton are paired together at half-back with Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls, now Ireland’s leading Rugby World Cup try scorer of all-time, named in the centre.
The back-three sees Rob Kearney, the final change from the Italy game, return at full-back with Tommy Bowe and Dave Kearney on the wings.
The replacements are Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald.
Expanding on some of the tightest selection calls, Schmidt added: “We thought Keith played pretty well last week (against Italy) amidst a pretty flat effort and he played exceptionally well the last time he started in the Aviva. At the same time, Jared got through training on Wednesday and trained very well.
“But if we put him back into the game on Sunday it could aggravate the foot (he injured). There was a bit of swelling post-training on Wednesday. We felt it was prudent to leave Jared for another week. With the type of the game that is (the quarter-final), we want to have a fully-fit squad for that.
“(Second row) was another really tight call. Dev has been a ‘big game’ player for us and he gives us a little bit more lineout capability. Iain will add value and, again, it is a case of making sure that we have a few things covered for next week as well.
“We are qualified and we are very keen to qualify at the top of the pool and, at the same time, knowing the reality that regardless of where you finish in the pool, there is a game next week against a side that is incredibly capable.”
With Sean Cronin and Simon Zebo missing out on the matchday 23 entirely, the New Zealander admitted: “It’s part of what I said about making sure that we do offer opportunity. We have, at the same time, a balance of what we feel we need on any particular day.
“I think one of the reasons is that we believe the midfield is going to be quite attritional. We think that’s going to be a really tough day at the office and Luke covers that, as well as the back-three, so his versatility is an asset for us there.
“He’s also played really well for us, Luke. He played really well there against Canada in the first match, so that’s the competitive nature of it. In the back-three, there’s a number of guys playing well.
“Tommy missed out on the first game and forced his way back in and was probably one of the better guys on the pitch last week. Dave Kearney’s consistently played well and I feel that there are some very narrow decisions. I’m not sure we get them all right, but we try to make them the best with next week in mind.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v France, 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Sunday, October 11, kick-off 4.45pm):
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14. Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
13. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)
11. Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster)
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3. Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
5. Paul O’Connell (Young Munster) (capt)
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster)
16. Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster)
17. Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
18. Nathan White (Connacht)
19. Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
20. Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster)
21. Eoin Reddan (Old Crescent/Leinster)
22. Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)