WITH a handful of his squad returning to their provinces for Magners League action this weekend, Mike Ruddock has made eight changes to his 22 for the visit of France to Dubarry Park, Athlone tonight, WRITES Donnchadh Boyle.
Among those absent are Craig Gilroy -- two-try hero from last week's win in Italy -- and Leinster's Andrew Conway, making their task against the French even more daunting.
France scored 49 points against Scotland last weekend. Out-half and captain Jean-Marc Doussain was the star of the show, underlining why he is so highly rated by Toulouse by kicking three penalties and two conversions in the romp.
But Ireland's pivot Paddy Jackson had an impressive outing last time too, and he is paired with fellow Ulsterman Blane McIlroy at half-back.
Unlike last week, Munster are represented in the starting XV on this occasion with David O'Mahony lining out in the second-row alongside local lad Daniel Qualter.
In a new-look back-row, David Heffernan starts at blind-side with Aaron Conneely promoted from the bench to open-side and Jordi Murphy moving to No 8.
Ireland have lost just once in Athlone in the previous five campaigns.
Ireland (U-20 v France) -- M Sherlock; T O'Halloran, A Kelly, N McDonald, A Boyle; P Jackson, B McIlroy; J Tracy, N Annett, C Carew; D O'Mahony, D Qualter; D Heffernan, A Conneely, J Murphy. Reps: D Doyle, F Bealham, I Henderson, S Buckley, P du Toit, J McKinney, JJ Hanrahan.
Ireland U-20s v France U-20s,
Live, RTE 2, 7.45