Wednesday 13 December 2017

Video: What can you do for Paris?

Hugh Farrelly

SIX days is not a lot of time to integrate newcomers and, as has often been acknowledged, Ireland do not have the resources to make personnel changes willy-nilly.

The front-row remains the best available and Rory Best was superb at hooker, Donncha O'Callaghan justified his inclusion in the second-row and Jamie Heaslip had his best international for a while at No 8.

Sean O'Brien was quiet but, while Peter O'Mahony's elevation to international rugby is a case of when rather than if, Paris is a graveyard for debutant back-rows, as Don Whittle, Paul Hogan and Ken O'Connell would readily testify.

In the backline, Keith Earls will hopefully come back into the equation, but Fergus McFadden, while he could not contain the phenomenal George North for Jon Davies's second try, did well overall and will be better for the experience.

Which leaves out-half. Jonathan Sexton did some very good things but missed placed-kicks proved costly (while Rhys Priestland's were not) and too many kicks out of hand went straight to Welsh hands. Ronan O'Gara is known for his accuracy in both areas. There is the also the argument for going with a provincial half-back pairing, and the O'Gara-Murray partnership has been singing for Munster.

However, it is not so much a case of who Declan Kidney picks for Paris, it is about how they go about their business.

HUGH FARRELLY'S IRELAND TEAM (v France) -- R Kearney; T Bowe, F McFadden, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; S Ferris, S O'Brien, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, E Reddan, J Sexton, K Earls.

Irish Independent

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