Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For Six Nations Opener With France

Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For Six Nations Opener With France

Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For Six Nations Opener With France

However as in 2017, the Ireland Six Nations campaign could be undone in Round One.

Schmidt explained: "We felt he went really well against Montpellier and we are looking forward to seeing what he will deliver".

There have been no Six Nations titles since and the Tricolors are in a permanent state of slumber, with coaches coming and going and not much changing.

The veteran handler plumped for teenage fly-half Matthieu Jalibert, a player to whom he handed a senior debut at Bordeaux-Begles less than five months ago before he was hired as France coach following the hurried sacking of Guy Noves in December.

Ireland go into the match in Paris on the back of seven successive wins, including a record 38-3 home victory against South Africa and a 28-19 victory over the Pumas. "We just were a little bit under-prepared in the two weeks leading up to it". No matter how much you've prepared yourself, even if you've been here before, for any player to step out into that stadium and the noise generated, I wouldn't say it's a shock, but it's a hugely motivating factor. "Everyone's taking an interest in him, he's mature and he can handle it". Recent encounters suggest another gritty one.

Fixtures: France v Ireland (Saturday, February 3rd - kick off: 4.45pm), Ireland v Italy (Saturday, February 10th - kick off: 2.15pm), Ireland v Wales (Saturday, February 23rd - kick off: 2.15pm), Ireland v Scotland (Saturday, March 10th - kick off: 2.15pm), England v Ireland (Saturday, March 17th - kick off: 2.45pm).

France and Ireland finished third and second past year on points difference.

France: Geoffrey Palis, Teddy Thomas, Remi Lamerat, Henry Chavancy, Virimi Vakatawa, Matthieu Jalibert, Maxime Machenaud; Kevin Gourdon, Yacouba Camara, Wenceslas Lauret, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Arthur Iturria, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Jefferson Poirot.

They are second favourites‚ and are expected to make a winning start against a French outfit that hasn't won a Test since their last match in last year's Six Nations.

Replacements: Pelissie, Priso, Gomes Sa, Gabrillagues, Tauleigne, Dupont, Belleau, Fall.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has included three NatWest 6 Nations debutants - Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki and James Ryan - in his team for Saturday's opening clash with France in Paris (kick-off 5.45pm local time/4.45pm Irish time).

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