20th August 2011 09:38
There may be no Championship points or silverware on the line, but today’s GUINNESS Summer Series encounter with France offers Ireland’s players a final chance to impress the management team ahead of Monday’s Rugby World Cup squad announcement.
2011 GUINNESS SUMMER SERIES: Saturday, August 20
IRELAND v FRANCE, Aviva Stadium, 5pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two)
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Team News: For Ireland’s opening match of the GUINNESS Summer Series, captain Brian O’Driscoll returns to the starting line-up for the first time since March.
The team that will take to the Aviva Stadium pitch shows ten changes to the one that started last weekend’s 19-12 defeat in Bordeaux.
There are six changes in the back-line, one of which is positional. Felix Jones will make his first start for Ireland at full-back and Keith Earls moves from the centre to the left wing.
With Earls moving into the back-three, Gordon D’Arcy comes into the midfield alongside O’Driscoll, with the experienced pair making their seasonal debuts for Ireland.
Jonathan Sexton will start at number 10, linking up again with his half-back partner from the recent Scotland game, Tomas O’Leary.
Paul O’Connell and Jamie Heaslip come into the starting pack after impressing off the bench last time out, and Sean O’Brien moves to blindside flanker.
David Wallace was due to make his first start of the campaign, but a hamstring injury has ruled him out. Shane Jennings, who has recovered from a broken arm, will take over at openside flanker.
Their back row colleague Stephen Ferris is a welcome addition to the replacements following his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Meanwhile, France head coach Marc Lièvremont has selected a much-changed team for Saturday’s clash in Dublin.
Experienced centre Aurélien Rougerie is back for his first match since fracturing his left ankle when playing for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14 Championship in May.
Rougerie has been paired with Fabrice Estebanez at centre, with Palisson and Toulouse duo Cédric Heymans and Maxime Médard forming the back-three.
David Skrela and Morgan Parra, who were used as second half substitutes in the first game, have been chosen to start this time around.
In the forwards, hooker William Servat and prop Thomas Domingo remain sidelined with knee injuries, so the front row combination is comprised of Szarzewski, Jean-Baptiste Poux and Nicolas Mas.
Lionel Nallet will captain the side from the second row alongside Pascal Papé, and les Bleus’ starting back row includes Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles and Julien Bonnaire.
Vincent Clerc, France’s try scorer last Saturday night, and Dimitri Yachvili, who kicked the rest of their points, drop to the replacements bench. Regular skipper Thierry Dusautoir is a late inclusion on the bench due to Raphaël Lakafia’s withdrawal from the squad.
There are a limited number of tickets still available for today’s GUINNESS Summer Series fixture.
Tickets can be purchased from the Ticketmaster booths located at the junction of Northumberland Road and Lansdowne Road from 1pm.
IRELAND: Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster), Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Shane Jennings (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).
Replacements: Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster).
FRANCE: Cédric Heymans (Toulouse); Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), Fabrice Estebanez (Racing Metro 92), Alexis Palisson (Toulon); David Skrela (Toulouse), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne); Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Pascal Papé (Stade Francais), Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro 92) (capt), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), Louise Picamoles (Toulouse).
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan), Fabien Barcella (Biarritz Olympique), Julien Pierre (Clermont Auvergne), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz Olympique), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse).
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens, Tim Hayes (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 8/15; Draw: 20/1; France to win: 6/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – “We need to treat this as anything but a friendly, try to stamp our authority and play the brand of rugby we hope to play at the World Cup.
“Those stats (one win in 11 meetings with france) show the level of difficulty that we have in playing against them. When we’ve beaten them in the past we’ve been able to match them physically.
“You could see how they started the game at the weekend. If they can get on top and get a bit of fluidity into their game, they play with that freedom.
“A lot of it is about staying with teams like France and trying to close games out in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Inevitably that’s how we’ve done it in the past when we have won.
“It’s great that in the build-up to a World Cup you get really tough games like this and next week’s (against England).
“It’s fantastic because you want to play against the best opposition to see how you are, how fit you are and where you are from a physical point of view.”
Aurélien Rougerie (France) – “I have had the luck, if you can call it that, of already suffering serious long-term injuries. So, I knew what it took to come back (from the ankle injury in May).
“The previous experiences with injuries have served me well with this latest knock.
“There are the highs and the lows, moments where you have to be patient, others where you are bursting with impatience and those where you need to know how to reason with yourself. Experience has played an important role.
“We know Ireland’s qualities well, they have very good players in the centre especially Brian O’Driscoll, who will come out raring to go on Saturday. We also know their fighting spirit. It will be a tough match and it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2008: RBS 6 Nations: France 26 Ireland 21, Stade de France
2009: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 30 France 21, Croke Park
2010: RBS 6 Nations: France 33 Ireland 10, Stade de France
2011: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 22 France 25, Aviva Stadium; Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: France 19 Ireland 12, Stade Chaban Delmas