Andy Farrell rejects the suggestion that losing three of his most experienced players has been a big disruption to his plans.

Ireland host France on Sunday and will do so without the services of Johnny Sexton [head injury] and Conor Murray [hamstring], who between them have 195 international caps.

In addition, James Ryan [head injury] has been ruled out. The lock has 33 caps to his name and is a guaranteed starter when fit.

"It's been challenging, but every Test week always presents its own challenges," said head coach Farrell after naming Jamison Gibson-Park and Billy Burns as the half-backs for the must-win Guinness Six Nations clash.

The duo, who played together in the final stages of the loss to Wales, have ten caps between them.

"There has been a lot going on this week but we're a squad and we've been a squad since we met up. Everyone has been swapping in and out," added Farrell

"You always have at the back of your mind the 'what if' scenarios and here we are. We've got a side that is going to go out full of confidence, to be excited about meeting a really exciting French team. 

"We will give it our best shot, there is no doubt about that.

"It's not [a lot of disruption] for us. We're excited about it. We’ve obviously lost a few experienced players during the week but one man’s loss is another man’s opportunity. 

"The squad is united in the challenge ahead." 

Robbie Henshaw speaks to Burns (l) and Gibson-Park (r) during the Autumn Nations Cup game v Wales

Farrell backed 26-year-old Burns to put a late missed kick to touch against Wales last week behind him.

"He's been great. He's strong Billy. He's a proper footballer," said the former Saracens and England centre.

"Everyone makes mistakes and, at international rugby, he understands the extent of that. 

"But he's a true professional, his team are right behind him, and he's trained outstandingly this week." 

Speaking as France made two changes to the team that beat Italy last week for Sunday's game, coach Fabien Galthie [pictured above] said of the Irish team: "They have changed the half-back partnership, [to] the one that played the last part of the game against Wales.

"They also played during the Autumn Nations in certain matches. 

"We will have to adapt accordingly. But our overall approach with regards to taking on Ireland will not change our style of play.

"The Irish will not be changing their style solely because three players who would have been selected are not playing."

Winger Keith Earls, meanwhile, has also backed the relatively inexperienced duo to shine, even if Gibson-Park will be coming up against "special talent" Antoine Dupont, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world on current form.

The 33-year-old, who will win his 90th cap, said: "It’s tough losing the experience of Conor and Johnny but the two lads stepping in... Billy has been flying it with Ulster, he’s settled in well in the squad. 

"He's popular in the squad and everyone backs him. He’s an unbelievable talent. Of course, he’s disappointed with last week and that kick but that’s sport.

"Jamison is cool as as breeze. He’s played in massive games for Leinster before. He’s a Super Rugby winner and there’ll be no fear in both of them.

"We are all confident in them. We know how talented they are and when they do click it will be just as good as Conor and Johnny."

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Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe, Billy Burns, Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson (captain), Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander. 

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Furlong, Ultan Dillane, Will Connors, Craig Casey, Ross Byrne, Jordan Larmour. 

France: Brice Dulin, Damian Penaud, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Gabin Villiere, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon (captain), Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Hassane Kolingar, Uini Atonio, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Boutier, Teddy Thomas. 

Follow Ireland v France (kick-off 3pm) on Sunday via our live blog on and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport. Highlights on Against the Head, Monday at 8pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.