Ireland team to play France named

schmidt new.jpg
schmidt new.jpg

Joe Schmidt has named his XV for the crunch group decider with France, and there are a few surprises.

The big two items of news are that Jared Payne failed to recover from time from his injury so Keith Earls will partner Robbie Henshaw in the centre.

And, in what is surely a nod to secure lineout play being the order of the day, Devin Toner starts in the second row, with Iain Henderson on the bench.

Another change see Cian Healy start ahead of Jack McGrath while Rob Kearney is fit and returns at 15.

Ireland team to play France – (15-9) R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; (1-8) C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Reps – (16-23) R Strauss, J McGrath, N White, I Henderson, C Henry, E Reddan, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald

With both teams maintaining a 100 per cent record up to this point the outcome of Ireland and France will decide the final pool placings, and, more importantly, confirm which side must face world champions New Zealand in the quarter finals.

The winner will almost certainly play Argentina, the loser will surely take on the All Blacks.

Ireland's recent record against the French is excellent, with two wins and two draws over the last four years but France have shown flashes so far in the tournament that suggests they are coming into some decent form.

Ireland huffed and puffed their way past Italy last week to set up the crucial clash on Sunday in Cardiff.