The return of Rob Kearney and and Sean O’Brien, from hamstring injuries, leaves us with the team that most people predicted but not necessarily the one that most people wanted, with the return of Kearney to the full back berth causing the most disquiet.
A groundswell of opinion was hoping for Stuart McCloskey to get the nod alongside Robbie Henshaw in midfield and Jarred Payne at fullback but disappointingly Joe Schmidt has stuck with the status quo and the lack of experimentation by Ireland between World Cups continues to be a source of irritation, for this writer at least!
However I suspect that most of the backs will be peripheral to events on Saturday afternoon with France opting to take Ireland on up front by attacking perceived weaknesses’ in the front five. It’s also debatable if O’Brien’s return will strengthen an already formidable back row for Ireland as the opting of O’Briens power over the pace of Tommy O’Donnell may weaken the effectiveness of the foraging unit as a whole.
But hey, it’s France, and a France looking to “find themselves” at that, so who knows what way this one will go. I can imagine every scenario from a rampaging French pack destroying Ireland up front to Ireland strolling home following an error ridden display from the hosts and I’m struggling to decide which one is the most likely.
The FRU Predicts: The way my predictions have been going this season we’ll probably have a comfortable win for Ireland with Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien both scoring, so lets stick with that! 🙂
|Maxime Médard||15||Rob Kearney|
|Teddy Thomas||14||Andrew Trimble|
|Maxime Mermoz||13||Jared Payne|
|Jonathan Danty||12||Robbie Henshaw|
|Virimi Vakatawa||11||Dave Kearney|
|Jules Plisson||10||Jonathan Sexton|
|Sébastien Bézy||9||Conor Murray|
|Jefferson Poirot||1||Jack McGrath|
|Guilhem Guirado||2||Rory Best|
|Uini Atonio||3||Nathan White|
|Alexandre Flanquart||4||Devin Toner|
|Yoann Maestri||5||Mike McCarthy|
|Wenceslas Lauret||6||CJ Stander|
|Yacouba Camara||7||Sean O’Brien|
|Damien Chouly||8||Jamie Heaslip|
|Camille Chat||16||Richard Strauss|
|Rabah Slimani||17||James Cronin|
|Eddy Ben Arous||18||Tadhg Furlong|
|Paul Jedrasiak||19||Donnacha Ryan|
|Loann Goujon||20||Tommy O’Donnell|
|Maxime Machenaud||21||Eoin Reddan|
|Jean-Marc Doussain||22||Ian Madigan|
|Hugo Bonneval||23||Fergus McFadden|