This Is The Ireland Team That Must Start Against France

11 days and counting.

Ireland kickstart their 2018 Six Nations campaign with a trip to Paris to take on France. Joe Schmidt’s men head into the fixture on the back of some wonderful European performances for the provinces.

A number of players have been hugely impressive, notably Keith Earls with Munster and Robbie Henshaw playing in the thirteen channel for Leinster. Captain Rory Best has also found some form, with Sean Cronin set to go straight back in as his understudy.

Ireland are overwhelming favourites, but a trip to France is never an easy task. They will need to be tough up front, and must try and silence the French crowd early.

That being said, we’ve got with a strong, but dynamic pack to take on Les Blues. A lot of the pack picks itself, but in terms of the big calls, Cian Healy gets the nod at loosehead and Josh van der Flier slots in at seven in place of the injured Sean O’Brien.

Let Healy loose (literally) from the start, and hope he can blow the French away with some of his ball-carrying skills. Lions prop Jack McGrath can then come on at the 55-60 minute mark to close things out.

Dan Leavy is probably a better option in attack, but we reckon we’ve covered ourselves by starting Healy, leaving room for van der Flier to slot it and tackle everything that moves. Ireland can also rely on Iain Henderson to make some hard yards when needed, with CJ Stander doing the bulk of the work here. Leavy will have to make do with exploding off the bench.

For the backline, to be quite honest we’d love to see Simon Zebo in at fifteen, but that’s never gonna happen. Rob Kearney is Schmidt’s main man, and to be fair, he’s in good-form. Andrew Conway will likely be an option on the bench.

The rest of the backline picks itself to be fair, with Jacob Stockdale bouncing back from a poor game against Leinster and Keith Earls in the form of his life.

The only real big call is does Schmidt go with Carbery or Keatley? The Munster ten is in terrific form, while Carbery has only just returned from injury. If we were to go with someone though, it would probably be Carbery, as Schmidt favours him and he can slot in on the wing or at fullback if there’s injuries.

Our Ireland team to take on France

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (Captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Iain Henderson
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander

16. Sean Cronin
17. Jack McGrath
18. John Ryan
19. James Ryan
20. Dan Leavy
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Andrew Conway

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