Thursday 24 August 2017

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

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

Cormac Byrne

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?

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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Irish and Ulster centre Jared Payne: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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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Munster have been given a huge lift with news that Keith Earls, pictured, and Conor Murray will be on board for the next three seasons (Photo: SPORTSFILE)

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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Robbie Henshaw, Ireland, fails to evade a tackle from Justin Tipuric, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

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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Wesley Fofana dives over to score France's first try

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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France's Virimi Vakatawa celebrates after scoring a try during a Six Nations tournament match. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

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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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton finished with a 100pc kicking record against Wales

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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Conor Murray scores Ireland's only try against Wales

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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France’s number eight Louis Picamoles. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

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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Ireland's Sean O'Brien during squad training today. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

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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Welsh centre Jamie Roberts is tackled by Ireland flanker CJ Stander. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
 

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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Devin Toner blocks down the kick of Gareth Davies during Ireland’s draw against Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
 

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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France's Yoann Maestri, top, catches the ball during Six Nations tournament Rugby match, France vs Italy at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Saturday Feb. 6, 2016. The match will be the first sporting event to be held at the national stadium since it was targeted by terrorists on 13 Nov. This Saturday there will be 250 police and 900 security staff.(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

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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France's Rabah Slimani scores a try

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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Frances rugby team player Guilhem Guirado arrives for a training session at the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis, south of Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. France will play against Ireland during their Six Nations tournament match on Saturday Feb. 13. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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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Jack McGrath has recently shown great improvement Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

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