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O'Gara looks fit for French

RONAN O'GARA is set to take his place in Ireland's starting line-up for Saturday's crunch Six Nations clash with France after taking part in training yesterday.

There was further good news for coach Declan Kidney as Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Jonathan Sexton also trained at the RDS ahead of Saturday's game in Paris.

Sexton missed last weekend's 29-11 victory over Italy with a dead leg but is back in the mix for France, but Kidney is likely to choose O'Gara -- who kicked 16 points during an accomplished display against the Italians -- ahead of the Leinster out-half.

The Munster kicker, however, picked up a knock during the game which cast a shadow over his availability for the Paris encounter, but his presence at training in Ballsbridge suggests that he's fit to play.

With Paddy Wallace impressing off the bench last Saturday, it emphasises Ireland's strength in depth at out-half. The last time Kidney had to choose between O'Gara and Sexton, the Leinster man got the nod for the win over South Africa in November but Ireland's coach could well opt for the proven experience and quality of O'Gara against France.

Sexton performed well against the Springboks and Kidney may want to see how he fares in the intensity of the Stade de France but the momentum is with his rival after Italy.

Flanker Stephen Ferris and winger Andrew Trimble remain the greatest injury concerns. The Ulster flanker has not been ruled out of selection but team manager Paul McNaughton said that, while Ferris has been able to put weight on his injured knee, "he hasn't run strongly on it yet".

If Trimble is unavailable, Keith Earls would be favourite to start on the left wing having played there against South Africa and off the bench last Saturday. Kevin McLaughlin won his debut in place of Ferris against Italy and came through well, while O'Callaghan will be seeking to reclaim his place in the Ireland second-row after Leo Cullen impressed there last weekend.

France have named an unchanged 23-man squad following their 18-9 win over Scotland but have a major concern over winger Aurelien Rougerie.

Coach Marc Lievremont is also monitoring right winger Benjamin Fall and prop Luc Ducalcon but Rougerie is the biggest worry. If the Clermont Auvergne star is ruled out, Vincent Clerc is likely to come into the side.

France squad (v Ireland):

Forwards: T Domingo (Clermont Auvergne), L Ducalcon (Castres), S Marconnet (Stade Francais), N Mas (Perpignan), W Servat (Toulouse), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), P Pape (Stade Francais), L Nallet (Racing-Metro), J Pierre (Clermont Auvergne), J Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), T Dusautoir (Toulouse), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier).

Backs: M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), F Michalak (Toulouse), M Bastareaud (Stade Francais), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), D Marty (Perpignan), V Clerc (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), B Fall (Bayonne), C Poitrenaud (Toulouse).


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