Picking The Ireland XV To Take On France In Dublin Next Week
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Things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Ireland in the Six Nations so far this year. A defeat in the opening round against England at home was followed up by a rather mediocre performance against Scotland, and a frustrating trip to Rome.
But they got nine much need points against Scotland and Italy and that coupled with England’s loss to Wales – means they are still in the hunt to retain the championship. They will need a bit of help along the way in terms of other results if this is to happen, but all they can do is focus on what they can control. And that starts with France.
A bonus-point win is a must and that will be no easy task. Sure France have struggled in this year’s championship for the most part, but they were much improved against Scotland this past weekend. Ireland meanwhile were pretty damn average against Italy.
So what does Schmidt do in terms of team selection? No doubt he’s going to make some changes, with a number of guys coming back from injury. But who loses out? It’s a tough one because it’s unfair to blame any one individual player for Ireland’s poor form. But we’ve had a go anyway and here’s our selection.
Possible Ireland team vs France
15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. CJ Stander
As you can see in the backline we’ve brought Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose back in as they are both expected to be fit for the visit of France. Ringrose simply has to come back in. He’s arguably Ireland’s best centre, while Henshaw needs a start to get some minutes under his belt and to restore some confidence after the England game. We all know what Bundee Aki can do, and he’s had more minutes than any other centre in the last 18 months or so. If the opportunity is there, Schmidt needs to get Ringrose and Henshaw paired up again. It’s been too long since we’ve seen them side by side in an Irish jersey.
In the pack we’ve brought Tadhg Beirne in to partner James Ryan ahead of Iain Henderson. Once again we all know what the Ulsterman is capable of, while Beirne is yet to get a big start in green. And it’s not like it would be a risk. Beirne is a phenomenal player and proved that when he got called in last minute for Munster over the weekend and was named man of the match – in his comeback back after a long lay-off.
And finally we’ve brought CJ Stander back in who’s also on course to be fit in time after his horrific facial injury against England. Ireland have really missed the powerful number eight and if he’s ready to go – get him in the starting line-up.