Six Nations

Ireland changes as Earls, Zebo miss out

Rob Kearney (AP)
Rob Kearney (AP)

Dublin - Johnny Sexton, Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney have all been passed fit and were named on Thursday in Ireland's team to face France in the Six Nations in Paris.

The defending champions are struggling with a spate of injuries so news of this trio's inclusion for Saturday's trip to the Stade de France will have come as a welcome boost for coach Joe Schmidt.

Both flanker O'Brien and fullback Kearney missed last weekend's opening 16-16 home draw with Wales in which Sexton picked up a shoulder knock.

O'Brien completes a back row containing CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip, with Tommy O'Donnell replacing Rhys Ruddock on the bench.

Kearney's younger brother Dave comes in on the left wing instead of Keith Earls, who along with Munster flyer Simon Zebo miss the trip to Paris.

Zebo has failed to recover from a knee problem while Earls was unable to recover from suspected concussion.

Fergus McFadden is drafted in on the bench.

Schmidt took the unusual decision of delaying his team announcement until after Thursday's training.

"We were just trying to clarify the fitness of Simon Zebo and Keith Earls, both of whom we have left out of the squad," Schmidt said.

"They got through training and at the same time we just felt they weren't 100 per cent fit. We just felt it was a risk."

Irish team to face France:

15 Rob Kearney; 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney; 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 CJ Stander; 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner; 3 Nathan White, 2 Rory Best (capt), 1 Jack McGrath.

Replacements: 16 Richard Strauss, 17 James Cronin, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.

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