The Ireland team to play France in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at the Stade de France on Saturday (kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time) has been named.
Rob Kearney came through training this morning and will start the game at full-back, with his younger brother Dave Kearney slotting in on the left wing with Andrew Trimble completing the back-three. Simon Zebo and Keith Earls both trained today but are not 100% fit and will not be risked this week.
The centre partnership of Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw remains in place with Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray named together again at half-back.
Sean O’Brien has come through training and will start at openside flanker, combining with CJ Stander – last week’s man-of-the-match against Wales – and number 8 Jamie Heaslip in a powerful back row combination.
O’Brien’s recovery from a hamstring injury sees Tommy O’Donnell move to the replacements. The rest of the pack, led by captain Rory Best, is unchanged from the 16-all draw with Wales.
Richardt Strauss comes onto the bench for Sean Cronin, while fellow Leinster players Eoin Reddan and Fergus McFadden are also included among the replacements.
Commenting on today’s delayed team announcement, head coach Joe Schmidt said: “We were just trying to clarify the fitness of Simon Zebo and Keith Earls, both of whom we have left out of the squad. One of the reasons it took a while was that they got through training but at the same time we just felt they weren’t 100% fit and it was a risk.
“There’s nothing worse than having someone replaced early in the game who wasn’t potentially fully fit, and having someone come off the bench who isn’t fully fit isn’t probably the best thing to do when you’re going to Paris.
“Simon Zebo was just a little bit sore and couldn’t stretch out his knee fully. Keith Earls will probably complete the last step of his HIA (head injury assessment) tomorrow, but we have to name a team today.
“It’s one of those things with a six-day turnaround, particularly when you’re travelling. If we had another day at home we could hedge our bets a little bit, but we have to get on a plane at 3.15pm this afternoon, and we’ve got to take the players that are available to play.”
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v France, 2016 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Stade de France, Saturday, February 13, kick-off 3.25pm local time/2.25pm Irish time):
15. Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14. Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
13. Jared Payne (Ulster)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)
11. Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster)
10. Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1. Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt)
3. Nathan White (Connacht)
4. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
5. Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
6. CJ Stander (Munster)
7. Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (vice-capt)
16. Richard Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster)
17. James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster)
18. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
19. Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
20. Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
21. Eoin Reddan (Old Crescent/Leinster)
22. Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
23. Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)