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Dublin: 5°C Monday 8 March 2021

Sexton, O'Brien and Heaslip return for Ireland as Healy makes bench

Joe Schmidt has named a strong-looking team to face France in Dublin on Saturday.

JOE SCHMIDT HAS named Johnny Sexton, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip in his starting team to face France on Saturday in the Six Nations, while Cian Healy returns to the bench.

Jonathan Sexton Sexton is back at out-half for Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Sexton has fully recovered from recent post-concussion issues to take over the 10 shirt from Ian Keatley, who drops out of the match day squad, while number eight Heaslip has overcome a shoulder issue.

O’Brien was set to start last weekend’s win over Italy before a hamstring tweak in the warm-up at Stadio Olimpico saw him ruled out. However, the ‘Tullow Tank’ proved his fitness at training in Carton House this week to once again be named at openside.

Healy hasn’t played a game since September, when he underwent hamstring surgery, but has hit all his fitness markers in recent weeks, and will add notable power to Ireland’s bench, even if there is a degree of risk involved.

Happily, Rory Best has been passed fit to play after suffering a concussion in last weekend’s win over the Italians, meaning an unchanged tight five for Ireland.

Aside from Sexton, the backline is also a case of as you were, with Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan and Felix Jones providing cover from the replacements bench. The forward subs are Healy, Sean Cronin, Marty Moore, Iain Henderson and Jordi Murphy.

Cian Healy The prospect of Healy arriving off the bench in the second half is an exciting one. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland team to face France:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Tommy Bowe
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Paul O’Connell
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Sean Cronin
17. Cian Healy
18. Marty Moore
19. Iain Henderson
20. Jordi Murphy
21. Isaac Boss
22. Ian Madigan
23. Felix Jones

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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