Johnny Sexton simply offers more to Ireland and had to start ahead of Paddy Jackson, according to former international Shane Horgan.

The Ulster out-half started the first two games of the Six Nations as Sexton sat out with a calf strain.

But with Joe Schmidt happy with Sexton’s progression it was the Leinster man who got the nod and will win his 64th cap tomorrow against France (4.50pm, live on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ2).

“Paddy Jackson has performed adequately in his two games there but he doesn’t have the star power or the X factor that Sexton has,” Horgan told RTÉ Sport.

“His variation of pass, while still being able to stay up field and attack the inside shoulder of the defence makes him a huge threat in himself but also his kicking game is a little bit more sophisticated than that of Jackson.

“I think we’ll see him turn the big French wingers quite a bit.

“It looks like an extremely strong Irish team. 

"There may be a big difference on the bench with [Peter] O’Mahony, [Andrew] Trimble, [Iain] Henderson, [Cian] Healy all waiting to come on, although that is a monstrous French pack, maybe the biggest we’ve seen in the Six Nations, led by [Louis] Picamoles at number 8.

"I just think Ireland will have too much for them.

“It’s really important. If Ireland lose this game then you can forget about the rest of the Six Nations, [it will] become very difficult to keep any momentum.

“We can expect a physical challenge from them but whether they are technically good enough, I don’t think so.”  

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