Major blow for Ireland as Johnny Sexton is ruled out of Six Nations showdown with France

Johnny Sexton picked up a hamstring strain in training on Wednesday. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JOHNNY SEXTON will miss Ireland's crunch Guinness Six Nations clash against France in Paris.

The captain has been replaced in the team by Joey Carbery, with James Ryan leading the side at the Stade de France.

The 36-year-old gave his regular Tuesday press conference this week, while he was pictured at the team's training session yesterday. However, the out-half subsequently picked up a hamstring injury in training on Wednesday.

Munster's Carbery started the win over Argentina in November and returned from his elbow injury to steer the ship home in Ireland's opening day win over Wales in Dublin last week.

This will be his first Six Nations start for Ireland and the biggest game of the 26-year-old's career to date.

His inclusion has led to Jack Carty's return to the Irish set-up, with the Athlone native the next man in to take the No 22 shirt. It is not yet known if Ireland will call up Harry or Ross Byrne or Billy Burns as cover as they travel to France today.

Michael Lowry and Mack Hansen can also cover out-half if needed.

Otherwise, Ireland are unchanged from the side that beat Wales, with Robbie Henshaw and Iain Henderson fit again and named on the bench.

Carbery will be partnered by Jamison Gibson-Park, while Bundee Aki joins Garry Ringrose in the centre and Hansen is part of the back-three along with Hugo Keenan and Andrew Conway.

Up front, Ireland have Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong in the front-row, with Ryan partnering Tadhg Beirne in the second-row and Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan making up the loose forwards.

On the bench, Henderson comes in for Ryan Baird and Henshaw replaces James Hume as Carty covers No 10.

Meanwhile, France have made two changes to the team that beat Italy ahead of the visit of Ireland. Young centre Yoram Moefana will wear the 12 jersey after Jonathan Danty picked up an ankle injury, while Toulouse flanker Francois Cros comes into the back row in place of Dylan Cretin

Ireland team to face France: H Keenan; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, M Hansen; J Carbery, J Gibson-Park; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Furlong; T Beirne, J Ryan (capt); C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan.

Reps: D Sheehan, C Healy, F Bealham, I Henderson, P O'Mahony, C Murray, J Carbery, R Henshaw.

France: M Jaminet; D Penaud, G Fickou, Y Moefana, G Villiere; R Ntamack, A Dupont; C Baille, J Marchand, U Atonio; C Woki, P Willemse; F Cros, A Jelonch, G Aldritt.

Reps: P Mauvaka, JB Gros, D Bamba, R Taofifenua, T Flament, D Cretin, M Lucu, T Ramos.

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