Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ireland-France combined XV: How many Irish players make our composite team?

Published 10/02/2016 | 11:35

Who has made out Ireland-France combined XV? These five have.
Who has made out Ireland-France combined XV? These five have.

The bookmakers are finding it very difficult to separate France and Ireland ahead of their meeting in the RBS Six Nations but who would make a combined XV if both sides were mixed?

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Ireland outnumber Les Bleus nine-to-six in our XV, Leave your view in the comments section below if you agree/disagree with our selection.

15. Jared Payne

Perhaps a strange decision given that he unlikely to fill the full-back berth for Joe Schmidt in the tournament. The former player in that position for Ireland and gets the nod ahead of Maxime Medard for the Frenchman's poor positioning. Scott Spedding and Rob Kearney struggling for form.

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14. Keith Earls

A doubt for this weekend's, Earls is the best finisher at Ireland's disposal. The Limerick man put in some huge hits against Wales to show his defensive prowess.

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13. Robbie Henshaw

Again, slightly out of position. He occupies the outside centre position frequently for Connacht. A threat in attack and a vital cog in defence. Mathieu Bastareaud is surplus to the requirements of Guy Noves.

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12. Wesley Fofana

The Clermont centre has everything. Pace, power, a devastating step and an instinctive finisher. Serious danger. Missed the Italy game through injury and may not recover in time for Saturday.

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11. Virimi Vakatawa

Announced his arrival from Sevens with devastating effect on Saturday. With his explosive pace and brilliant off-loading skills, Joe Schmidt is sure to be planning to negate his influence.

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10. Jonathan Sexton

Sexton has been targeted by the French media since his departure from Racing 92 and will be hoping to revel in Ireland's, slightly, more expansive games like he did against Wales.

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9. Conor Murray

The Welsh encounter saw Murray come close to his devious best. Very few players in world rugby con Justin Tipuric like that and he was fast to the ruck. Sebastien Bezy was good for France against Italy but his place-kicking was atrocious.

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8. Louis Picamoles

Picamoles will be a huge loss to Guy Noves after limping off injured last Saturday. Has a knack for breaking free of tackles and is impressive at the breakdown. His power just edges him ahead of the consistent Jamie Heaslip.

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7. Sean O'Brien

The Tullow Tank will hopefully have recovered in time from his hamstring injury to take his place at openside. He completely dominated the French in Cardiff last October and he is sure to be targeted again this weekend.

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6. CJ Stander

He only has one international cap to his name but what a cap it was. Any doubts over whether he could assert as much influence for Ireland as he does for Munster were answered emphatically on Sunday.

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5. Devin Toner

The 6ft10" giant is improving his game with every passing year. His charge down and the quality of his ball-carrying are a testament to how much his loose game has improved in recent years.

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4. Yoann Maestri

A very good lineout operator, the 28-year-old Toulouse lock is teak-tough in everything he does. His gesture to enter the Ireland dressingroom after their Rugby World Cup defeat last year to seek out the injured Paul O'Connell shows that his class extends beyond the playing field.

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3. Rabah Slimani

So many parts of the French game have splintered yet their scrum remains a source of some reliability and the Stade Francais tighthead has managed to anchor it efficiently.

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2. Guilhem Guirado

The fact that he shades Rory Best in the hooker position should say enough. His ultra-reliability at the lineout was the deciding factor.

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1. Jack McGrath

The Leinster prop put in some huge hits against Wales and should keep Cian Healy from the starting XV given his current form. He'll be looking for a stronger performance in the scrum on Saturday.

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