Joe Schmidt had named his squad to face to French on Sunday. C.J. Stander has recovered from a facial injury sustained against England to return to the no.8 shirt. Garry Ringrose, who also missed the Scottish and Italian games, returns to partner Bundee Aki at centre. There are seven changes in total from the side that played in Rome, six of those changes come in the pack as captain Rory Best returns to the side after being rested for the trip to Rome. He will be partnered in the front row by Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong. In the second row, both Iain Henderson and James Ryan return and Peter O’Mahony is the only member of the back row retained as Stander and Josh van der Flier come back into the side.
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton once again pair up as they both look to rediscover their form of 2018. As mentioned above Aki and Ringrose for the centre partnership, while outside them, there is a familiar to the back three of Stockdale, Earls and Kearney.
One of the main talking points may revolve around a player left out of the matchday squad rather than those included. Many sections of the print and radio media, as well as fans on social media platforms, had been calling for the inclusion of Munster’s Tadhg Beirne who has been in scintillating form with his province. However, Joe has gone with the tried and trusted on this occasion. James Ryan, despite his tender years, has become a nailed on starter at no.5. Former B&I Lion Iain Henderson brings experience and versatility to the role, while Ultan Dillane, who was one of Ireland’s outstanding performers against Italy, provides cover from the bench.