The 5 Biggest Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For France Showdown

Sweeping changes.

As expected, Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has rung the changes for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with France at the Aviva Stadium, with no fewer than seven changes to his starting XV.

In comes CJ Stander and Garry Ringrose back from injury with Cian Healy, Rory Best, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Iain Henderson also all in to start after being rested or benched for the win over Italy.

Here are the the 5 biggest talking points following Schmidt’s announcement.

No Tadhg Beirne.
Bit of a strange one here. The Munster lock made a triumphant return from injury a couple of weeks back, putting in a man of the match performance for his province. But Schmidt says he’s a little bit “sore”after the week while also stating he was “in the mix” for selection. Not quite sure what to make of it but you’d imagine if fit he should at least be on the bench? Hopefully we see him against Wales – a team he knows all too well giving his time with the Scarlets.

Sean O’Brien dropped.
It appears Schmidt isn’t too keen on starting O’Brien and Stander together – perhaps because they share a lot of similar traits. And with Stander one of the first names on the team sheet, O’Brien loses out with not even a spot on the bench. This is down to Jack Conan missing his chance to start against Italy with a late injury. Fair enough really. And Josh van der Flier has done nothing to be dropped in the first place so perhaps deserves another shot at holding down the seven jersey.

The boys are back together.
For for the first time this year, Schmidt has his full backline that defeated New Zealand last November, starting and on the field together – with the added bonus of a Conor Murray-style upgrade instead of Kieran Marmion. Ringrose should bring some much needed creativity to the midfield, and can express himself knowing Rob Kearney will be in the backfield to tidy things up.

Kilcoyne gets the nod again.
Once again Munster loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne gets the nod over 2017 Lions tourist Jack McGrath. The Leinster prop is reportedly looking to move to Ulster next season to revitalise his career and it’s easy to see why. Kilcoyne has been a regular for Munster this season and is in form as a result. An easy decision for Schmidt to make when you think about it.

No Joey Carbery.
The Munster outhalf fails to make the squad as he continues to recover from a hamstring problem. Munster fans will be hoping he’s on the bench for the Wales game next week because they’ll want their star man firing for their Champions Cup quarter final later this month. A big day for Jack Carty on Sunday who looks set for his second cap off the bench.

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