Late drama as Joe Schmidt forced into last-minute team changes 5 years ago

Late drama as Joe Schmidt forced into last-minute team changes

This is the best starting XV we could have hoped for heading into the start of the championship.

Joe Schmidt has drafted in Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney for Saturday's Six Nations clash with France.

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The Leinster flanker steps in for Tommy O'Donnell, who is named on the bench, while his provincial teammate starts at fullback. Dave Kearney comes in on the left wing as both Simon Zebo and Keith Earls were ruled out.

The team announcement was delayed by 20 minutes as Schmidt was forced into some last-minute changes.

IRFU tweet

Joe Schmidt explained, "We were trying to clarify the fitness of Simon Zebo and Keith Earls... they got through training but we just felt they were not 100%."

Fergus McFadden was pulled from the Leinster bench to play reserve in France.

Elsewhere, the front and second row, half backs and centres are unchanged from those that started Sunday's 16-16 draw with Wales.

The Irish back row is the most exciting of all the combinations across the park. CJ Stander gets another shot at blindside after being named man-of-the-match on his Test debut. Vice captain Jamie Heaslip retains the No.8 jersey and O'Brien is openside.

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Earlier today, France coach Guy Noves named his matchday squad, which included six changes from the side that eeked a narrow win over Italy last week.

IRELAND XV

15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Nathan White
4. Mike McCarthy
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O'Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: Strauss, J Cronin, Furlong, Ryan, O'Donnell, Reddan, Madigan, McFadden.

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