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2012 Six Nations: Ireland Team to Face France

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Donncha O'Callaghan of Ireland is raised up by team mates during the RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Peter CollinsContributor IFebruary 29, 2012

Declan Kidney has named an unchanged starting 15 and bench to face the French in the Stade de France this Sunday.

Obviously, this is no surprise as Ireland dominated last Saturday's match against the Italians from start to finish.

As usual, there were some doubts over the fitness of players who had picked up knocks, with Rob Kearney (groin), Gordon D'Arcy (shoulder), Sean O'Brien (ankle) and Cian Healy (Jaw) all injury doubts. But luckily enough for Kidney, all are fit play and be included in Sunday's encounter.

Although before the team was announced there were question marks over whether Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien and Donncha O'Callaghan would all start, due to other players who seemed to perform better when they came on for them.

When Eoin Reddan came on for Murray last Saturday he showed urgency in the Irish attack, a trait which the Munster man lacked in the match.

But the physicality and defense that Murray brings is something that just can't be dismissed when facing France; Reddan is not as physical as him and also lacks the strength and creativity that Murray brings.

Eyebrows have also been raised regrding whether Donncha O'Callaghan should start over Donnacha Ryan, who at the minute is looking far more influential than his Munster team mate. Ryan has already taken O'Callaghan's position at club level for Munster.

It is common knowledge that Sean O'Brien is not a natural openside flanker, and that is showing in his performances.

O'Brien is a brute, and is a born and bred ball carrier, doing so to devastating effect, but his opportunities in recent matches to do so are minimal due to playing out of position.

He should be playing on the blindside or at eight, where the opportunities to carry more ball are available. Since he is not a natural seven he doesn't have the mind of one which has a direct negative impact on the whole teams performance.

That is the reason why questions have been asked as to why Peter O'Mahony, who is a natural seven, is not starting.

This Sunday, captain Paul O'Connell will earn his 85th Cap for his country and Ronan O'Gara, who became the most capped Irish player after overtaking Brian O'Driscoll last weekend, will be looking to add to his 118 Caps.

In the French camp, there have been two changes to the side that beat Scotland on Sunday, with Julien Bonnaire replacing Louis Picamoles at eight and Clement Poitrenaud taking over at fullback for the injured Maxime Medard.

 

15 - Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 - Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 - Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
10 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
9 - Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1 - Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 - Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 - Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt)
6 - Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 - Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)

Replacements:

16 - Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 - Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 - Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 - Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

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