(Photo: Getty Images)
By Adam Ellis
Joe Schmidt has named his matchday-23 for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against France at the Stade de French.
Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale, Connacht’s Bundee Aki and Leinster’s James Ryan are each handed their tournament debuts as Schmidt looks to overturn the 10-9 defeat Ireland suffered in 2016, when Maxime Medard broke hearts with a late try.
Ryan’s inclusion as Iain Henderson’s second row partner means Devin Toner takes a place on the replacements’ bench, while Josh van der Flier is chosen at openside flanker in the stead of the injured Sean O’Brien.
Schmidt has been cautious on the enthusiam surrounding the prospect of 20-year-old Leinster sensation Jordan Larmour and has not included the full-back in the squad, opting for a back three of Rob Kearney, Stockdale and Keith Earls.
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12, Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best (Capt), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Iain Henderson, 5 James Ryan, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 CJ Stander
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Fergus McFadden
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