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Keith Earls earns Six Nations start for Irish in Paris

Venue: Stade de France Date: Saturday, 13 February Kick-off: 1630 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online; Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio Ulster MW; Live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website


Ireland coach Kidney explains team selection

Keith Earls will make his first Six Nations start for Ireland after being selected in place of Andrew Trimble for Saturday's clash with France.

Trimble had been an injury doubt after picking up a hamstring strain against Italy and is included among a list of nine possible replacements.

A vacancy is left at blind-side flanker pending Stephen Ferris's fitness.

With Donncha O'Callaghan still ruled out by injury, Leo Cullen stays at lock while Ronan O'Gara remains at fly-half.

Apart from the introduction of Earls and the possible return of Ferris, who missed the Italy game because of a knee injury, the team is unchanged from the line-up that beat the Azzurri.

The Ulster flanker took part in training on Tuesday and a decision of his fitness will be made on Thursday.

Jonathan Sexton is named among the replacements' list, which will be trimmed to seven before the match.


Ulster's Paddy Wallace, who came on for O'Gara at fly-half in the closing stages against Italy, is also included among the bench options.

Lions tourist Earls, who will win his seventh cap on Saturday, came on as a replacement for Trimble in Dublin and takes the starting role for the Stade de France clash.

There are three survivors - O'Gara, John Hayes and Brian O'Driscoll - from Ireland's last successful visit to Paris, a 27-25 victory in 2000 in which O'Driscoll scored a stunning hat-trick. That was Ireland's first win in the French capital since 1972.

Hayes, who reached a century of international caps against Italy, including the two he won as a Lions replacement, will move onto 99 Ireland caps on Saturday.

The veteran prop, 36, is set to become the first player to reach a century of Test appearances for Ireland when they meet England at Twickenham on 27 February.

O'Driscoll, who has played in 103 Tests including six for the Lions, will win his 98th Ireland cap in Paris.

O'Gara will win his 95th cap on Saturday after holding off the challenge from Sexton.

"More than anything you must be good at dealing with disappointment and the mental side of the game because at fly-half you're the hero or you get slated," said O'Gara on Tuesday.

O'Driscoll looks ahead to France match

"Some people can't handle that mentally but that's been a strong trait of mine.

"I can take the rough times, and by God there have been some rough times.

"You just have to dig in, believe in yourself and keep coming back for more."

Kidney appears to have had little hesitation about plumping for O'Gara again.

"Ronan had a very good game against Italy so there was no reason not to play him this week," said the Ireland coach.

"Jon has been making a good recovery and the final stage of that should be achieved tomorrow when he goes place kicking.

"We're in the lucky position of having two good fly-halves and Ronan's experience will be more than helpful going to Paris."

Kidney did everything possible to give Trimble a soft landing after the winger's demotion to the bench.

"I wanted to give Andrew a go to see how he went last week. He went well but Keith deserves his go now.

"Andrew tweaked his hamstring and we want to give him full time to recover."

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy (both Leinster), K Earls, R O'Gara, T O'Leary (all Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery, J Hayes (both Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), AN Other, D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements (from): R Best, T Court (both Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), S O'Brien, K McLaughlin, E Reddan, J Sexton (all Leinster), P Wallace, A Trimble (both Ulster).

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see also
Clerc & Palisson win France calls
10 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland injury concerns over trio
07 Feb 10 |  Irish
O'Driscoll frustrated after win
06 Feb 10 |  Irish
Ireland 29-11 Italy
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v Italy photos
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Breakaway leads to Heaslip try
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Kidney calls for improvement in all areas
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union

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