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Dublin: 5°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Farrell set to hand Ruddock an Ireland recall for Six Nations clash with France

James Ryan is set to miss out, while captain Johnny Sexton could also be ruled out.

Ruddock hasn't played for Ireland since the 2019 World Cup.
Ruddock hasn't played for Ireland since the 2019 World Cup.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell is set to hand Rhys Ruddock a recall for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with France in Dublin, while Iain Henderson is in line to start in the second row.

Ireland opened their championship with an away defeat to Wales last weekend having suffered the loss of blindside flanker Peter O’Mahony to a red card early in the game.

With O’Mahony now suspended, Ruddock is in line for his first Test involvement since coming off the bench in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand. The 30-year-old wasn’t involved in any of Farrell’s squads last year but earned a call-up for this Six Nations thanks to his form with Leinster.

Ireland also saw lock James Ryan and captain Sexton forced off with head injuries last weekend and they have been going through return-to-play protocols in recent days. 

Ryan is currently not expected to recover in time to feature against the French, with Henderson in line to start in the second row in his place.

If Sexton is ruled out, Ulster’s Billy Burns is expected to start in the number 10 shirt.

With Ireland needing a win to keep their championship hopes alive, it appears that Farrell will otherwise opt for a settled team.

Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are set to continue as the starting centres, with Conor Murray at scrum-half. Hugo Keenan has earned another shot at fullback, while Farrell is expected to back Keith Earls and James Lowe on the wings again.

The front row of Cian Healy, Rob Herring, and Andrew Porter could start again, although the bench impact made by Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, and Tadhg Furlong against the Welsh has left Farrell with plenty to ponder ahead of this weekend.

There will definitely be at least one change up front with O’Mahony suspended for the next three Six Nations games following his red card. Farrell looks likely to give Ruddock his first cap in over a year, with Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander expected to continue in the back row alongside him.

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Ireland are due to officially name their matchday 23 before midday tomorrow.

Possible Ireland XV v France:

15. Hugo Keenan
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton/Billy Burns
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring
3. Andrew Porter
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Iain Henderson
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey preview Ireland-France and give their thoughts on an eventful week from Cardiff onwards:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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