Sexton, Best return for Ireland

Date published: February 23 2017

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with France in Dublin.

First-choice hooker Rory Best returns to captain the team after being sidelined in the Round 2 win against Italy in Rome through illness. Fly-half Jonathan Sexton is also back in the Ireland team this weekend for his first match the 2017 tournament.

Best is joined in the front row by Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong. The second row sees Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan paired once again while Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander fill the back row slots to complete the pack.

Conor Murray and Sexton are named at half-back with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose continuing their midfield partnership.

Rob Kearney, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo complete the back three.

The replacements are Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson and Andrew Trimble.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Andrew Trimble

Date: Saturday, February 25
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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