Friday 24 February 2017

Will Conor Murray figure for Ireland?

Duncan Bech

Conor Murray
Conor Murray
Irelands strength and conditioning coach Bryan Cullen shares a joke with Coach Declan Kidney during a training session at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photo: PA

IRELAND name their team to face France at lunchtime today with the biggest question mark hanging over Conor Murray's continued presence at scrum-half.

Eoin Reddan brought urgency to the Irish attack when he appeared as a second-half substitute in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations victory over Italy - and he could start in Paris.



Murray's superior defence, an important asset against the championship favourites in Paris where Ireland have prevailed just once since 1972, may earn him a stay of execution.



In the second row Donncha O'Callaghan's place is under threat from Donnacha Ryan, while there have been calls for Peter O'Mahony to replace Sean O'Brien at openside.



However, coach Declan Kidney is likely to keep faith with the 22 that was selected for the original fixture against France 17 days ago and that routed Italy.



Full-back Rob Kearney will be included in the starting XV for Sunday's showdown following the improvement in his groin problem.



Prop Cian Healy (jaw), Sean O'Brien (ankle) Gordon D'Arcy (shoulder and foot) also picked up knocks at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday but are fit to face France.



Kearney believes the win against Italy has pointed Ireland in the right direction following their loss to Wales on the opening weekend.



"When you come into a Six Nations camp it can take a week or two for things to start flowing a little bit more," he said.



"Against Wales we were guilty of not hitting the ground running.



"We're a week further into the competition and I'd like to think that's reflected in the way we're playing.



"Naturally we'll travel to Paris with a bit more confidence now that we have a win under our belts.



"We're in a much better place than maybe we were two or three weeks ago.



"Tries win games and to score five of them against Italy is really pleasing.



"If we're to beat France then we need to score tries and be clinical against them as well.



"There won't be a huge amount of Irish support at the Stade de France and we need to try and use that to our advantage.



"If we can adopt the mindset where it's us against everyone in the stadium, then we can use that to our advantage."



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