/ Six Nations 2016

Kearneys & O'Brien in Ireland side to face France in Six Nations

Updated: Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 19:18 | Comments

The Kearney brothers played important roles in Ireland's win in Paris in 2014
The Kearney brothers played important roles in Ireland's win in Paris in 2014

Rob and Dave Kearney, and Sean O'Brien have all been called up to the Ireland team to play France on Saturday in Paris, while there is no place in the squad for Simon Zebo or Keith Earls. 

Coach Joe Schmidt said that both Zebo and Earls trained but they were not 100% fit and it would have been a risk to start them. 

Flanker O'Brien and full-back Rob Kearney both missed the draw with Wales through injury, while Dave Kearney wins a promotion from the bench. 

O'Brien has recovered from a hamstring injury and takes the place of Tommy O'Donnell, who drops down to the bench. 

There was some confusion after the IRFU originally included Rhys Ruddock but it since confirmed that the Munster back row would be in the squad. 

Fergus McFadden has been drafted into the squad, with Zebo unable to overcome his knee injury.

Johnny Sexton and Andrew Trimble have won their fitness battles to face Les Bleus at the Stade de France (2.25pm).

Ireland took the unusual step of delaying their team selection until after today's training session, such was the size and importance of the walking-wounded contingent.

"They got through training and at the same time we just felt they weren't 100% fit"

Munster flyer Zebo's failure to beat his knee problem hands Leinster wing Dave Kearney a starting berth, with his provincial colleague McFadden drafted onto the bench.

Earls was unable to recover from his suspected concussion too, leading to Ireland's late reshuffle.

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

"They got through training and at the same time we just felt they weren't 100% fit.

"We just felt it was a risk."

McFadden was overlooked for Ireland's initial Six Nations squad, and was slated to feature for Leinster against Zebre on Friday night.

The 29-year-old was brought into Ireland's training ranks in midweek to cover Earls' absence.

The Leinster speedster was still expected to return to club duties even on Thursday morning, only for Zebo to suffer a last-minute setback.

Linchpin fly-half Sexton suffered a heavy blow to the chest in Sunday's 16-16 draw with Wales in Dublin, while Trimble has fended off a shoulder problem.

"That's the latest selection and change we've had to make," said Schmidt.

"Normally we would name the match squad before training, and everyone would be fully fit and have absolute clarity on what their role was and where they were training.

"It's probably a bit unsettling and frustrating, but we have to get around it.

"It's one of those things with a six-day turnaround, particularly when you're travelling.

"If we had another day at home we could hedge our bets a little bit, but we have to get on a plane at 3.15 this afternoon, and we've got to take the players that are available to play."

Earlier France coach Guy Noves named his side and it shows six changes to the side that scraped past Italy on Saturday. 

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Nathan White, Mike McCarthy, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richard Strauss, James Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O'Donnell, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden. 

Follow France v Ireland live from 1.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Radio 1 and via the live blog on RTÉ News Now and RTÉ.ie.

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