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Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Stephen Ferris passed fit to start for Ireland 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

Stephen Ferris
Ferris has been able to train again with Ireland this week

Stephen Ferris has been passed fit to start in Ireland's Six Nations clash against France on Saturday.

Ferris missed the win over Italy because of a knee injury but he will return at blindside flanker in Paris with Kevin McLaughlin losing out.

McLaughlin drops out of the Ireland squad with Sean O'Brien chosen instead as back-row cover.

Jonathan Sexton and Paddy Wallace are on the bench but there is no room in the replacements for Andrew Trimble.

The Ulster winger started against Italy but has lost out to Keith Earls for the Stade de France clash.

Lions tourist Earls will make his first Six Nations start for Ireland this weekend.

Ferris was not risked for the opening game against Italy but his return to the Irish pack is a boost after the team's lacklustre display in the opener at Croke Park.

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 inclusions of Earls and Ferris, the team is unchanged from the line-up that beat the Azzurri.


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

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."

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), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: R Best, T Court (both Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), S O'Brien, E Reddan, J Sexton (all Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster).

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see also
France 33-10 Ireland
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Nallet dubious over Irish ability
11 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
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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