Earls returns to Ireland for France clash

Ireland have named Munster centre Keith Earls as one of eight changes to the Ireland team to face France in a Rugby World Cup warm up match to be held in Bordeaux.

Ronan O’Gara and Eoin Reddan is the new half-back combination and there is a new ront row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has retained the back three of Rob Kearney, Andrew
Trimble and Luke Fitzgerald but has named a new-look centre combination with
Keith Earls partnering Paddy Wallace at centre.

Veteran fly-half Ronan O’Gara will start in tandem with Eoin Reddan at scrum-half.

In the forwards, one of the nine changes is a positional switch that sees Donnacha
Ryan moving from the second row to the blindside flank with Donncha O’Callaghan
coming in to partner captain Leo Cullen at lock.

Sean O’Brien also comes into the back row while Kidney has chosen an entirely
new front row to face the French comprising Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross.

Kidney said Ireland were determined to improve on their display against the
Scots at Murrayfield where a late try saw them beaten 10-6.

“I think once you get the opportunity to wear the green jersey you’ve
got to win the match. That’s going to be our primary objective,” Kidney

“Obviously we have a few performance goals and they will be to improve
on last week’s performance.”

Kidney revealed his coaching team had needed to rein in Ireland’s players during
training this week as the battle for World Cup places intensified.

“They’re working really hard. Sometimes you have to pull them off the
training pitch because they want do extras at the end,” he said.

“From my side I couldn’t be asking any more from them.”

Cullen, captaining the side in the continued absence of Brian O’Driscoll who
is still recovering from injury, said Ireland would need to maintain discipline
against a dangerous France line-up.

“It’s always a massive challenge playing any French team away from home,”
Cullen said. “We need to be very secure when we have the ball.

“They have a lot of pace through the team and if we give them opportunities
they’re going to be very, very dangerous. So we have to be very disciplined
in the way we approach the game.”


Rob Kearney (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Leo Cullen (Leinster, captain), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Denis Leamy (Munster).

Replacements: Jerry Flannery (Munster), Tony Buckley (Sale Sharks), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Felix Jones (Munster).

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