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Ireland shift tactics for crunch Six Nations opener against France

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Wednesday Jan 31, 2024

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has opted to fight fire with fire when his team clash with France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Friday evening.

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Headlining the Irish selection is Leinster second-row Joe McCarthy, who gets the nod ahead of the more experienced James Ryan to start alongside Tadhg Beirne.

In the front row, Farrell has gone with the tried and trusted trio of Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong. Continuing the theme of consistency, the backrow that played in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal of captain Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Caelen Doris.

Joining McCarthy has a new starter, Munster flyhalf Jack Crowley has the monstrous task of replacing the iconic Johnny Sexton in the number shirt. Fortunately for Crowley, there is consistency and experience on his inside with Jamison Gibson-Park and outside him with Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw in the centres.

Speaking of the centres, incumbent outside centre Garry Ringrose is unavailable through injury, meaning Henshaw gets the start.

In the back three, Hugo Keenan and James Lowe are joined by a new right-wing partner as Calvin Nash replaces the injured Mack Hansen.

Completing the twenty-three-man squad are Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, James Ryan, Ryan Baird and Jack Conan as the forwards replacements, with Conor Murray and debutant Ciaran Frawley covering the backline.

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