Sunday 20 January 2019

French trio sit out training as Ireland step up preparations for Paris

France coach Jacques Brunel
France coach Jacques Brunel
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Jacques Brunel's France squad were kept out of Top 14 action last weekend, but the new Les Bleus supremo still has injury concerns ahead of his team's Six Nations opener against Ireland on Saturday.

Scrum-half Baptiste Serin, centre Geoffrey Doumayrou and flanker Wenceslas Lauret sat out an open training session at Marcoussis yesterday while second-row Sebastien Vahaamahina received stitches to a head wound during the work-out.

Bordeaux's Serin has a stomach bug, La Rochelle's Doumayrou and Lauret were held back with muscle pains and all three are expected to be fit to face Ireland at the Stade de France.

France lost Racing hooker Camille Chat to flu last week and he has been replaced in the squad by Bordeaux's Adrien Pelissie.

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Joe Schmidt assembled his team at Carton House last night and they will train on Irish soil for the first time today ahead of the eagerly-anticipated campaign.

Ireland spent last week on a warm-weather training camp in Spain, but will be back on the familiar grounds of the Kildare hotel when they step up their preparations.

The IRFU will issue an injury update at lunchtime, while a member of the squad will be on media duties as they continue their low key build-up to the big kick-off.


Behind the scenes, Schmidt's big selection decision appears to centre around the back-row and who will fill injured flanker Seán O'Brien's boots.

Presuming he sticks with Munster pair Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander at back-row and No 8, the battle for the No 7 shirt is between Leinster trio Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier and Jordi Murphy.

"We're very conscious of what Seán brings to the team and I thought Rhys (Ruddock) was probably as good as he has ever been for us both in the summer tour and in November," Schmidt said.

"You focus on who is there and we are excited about who is there. Seán is not there but Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy, Dan Leavy are. Jamie Heaslip is not there and Rhys isn't there but Jack Conan has been beating the door down for a while waiting to get an opportunity and I think has demonstrated an ability to take those opportunities and you have got CJ Stander there and Pete O'Mahony there with Rhys missing.

"Test match rugby used to be the best 15 and you didn't even being subs on. It was just the best 15 whereas now it's about developing squads and depth of squads and trying to be as resilient as you can be."

Irish Independent

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