IRELAND vs FRANCE
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
ohnny Sexton’s absence after a head knock, picked up during last week’s 21-16 reverse in Wales, takes the pre-game headlines, an injury that hands an opportunity to Billy Burns for his first Six Nations start.
Burns, 26, came on as a replacement last week but will have the chance to dictate from the outset on Sunday.
Iain Henderson is named as captain in Sexton’s place – replacing the injured James Ryan – and Rhys Ruddock will play in place of Peter O’Mahoney, who picked up a three match ban for the first-half red card he collected as his side were beaten in Cardiff.
Despite being without four senior stars, Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell is upbeat about his side’s chances against the competition favourites,
However, France come into this tie in red hot form. They hammered Italy 50-10 on Saturday afternoon and it could be said they hardly reached top gear.
French boss Fabien Galthie has opted for just two changes from the line-up from last time out; Damien Penaud comes in for Teddy Thomas on the wing, as Anthony Jelonch replaces blindside flanker Dylan Cretin.
The continued absence of star man Romain Ntamak has given Matthieu Jalibert a chance to shine, but it is his halfback partner Antoine Dupoint who has stood out and is the man Ireland need to keep quiet should they pull off an upset in Dublin
Six Nations Predictions – France vs Ireland: France by 7 (13-20)
Sir Clive Woodward: “This is going to be a cracker. Team of the moment and tournament favourites France against an Ireland side fighting to stay relevant in this season’s tournament. The absence of half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton is a blow but Ireland will enjoy the underdog tag and can still be extremely competitive. You still have to fancy France though.”