France v Ireland: Ireland player profiles

John O’Sullivan with the lowdown on Andy Farrell’s starting XV for Paris

Cian Healy will make his 100th Irish cap against France on Saturday. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Cian Healy will make his 100th Irish cap against France on Saturday. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

 

15 Jacob Stockdale

Club: Ulster
Age: 24
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 103kg (16st 3lbs)
Caps: 29
Points: 80
Ireland’s most potent attacking player and it should be reflected in trying to get him on the ball in that capacity. Needs to concentrate hard in defence and be a little quicker in getting ball from hand to boot.

14 Andrew Conway

Club: Munster
Age: 29
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 90kg (14st 2lbs)
Caps: 22
Points: 50
The game didn’t run for him last week as is occasionally the case for a wing but the more he’s in possession going forward the better off his team will be.

13 Robbie Henshaw

Club: Leinster
Age: 27
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 99kg (15st 7lbs)
Caps: 44
Points: 30
His rounded skills are sometimes overlooked when he plays at inside centre but he’ll have a little more freedom to display them in the 13 jersey. A huge physical battle with Vakatawa awaits.

12 Bundee Aki

Club: Connacht
Age: 30
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 101kg (15st 10lbs)
Caps: 27
Points: 25
He’ll be relishing the prospect of getting into France’s 10-12 channel with the ball in hand where his power can be a gainline breaker. The French backrow will have its hands full trying to negate that.

Hugo Keenan in action during his debut against Italy. Photograph: Brian Lawless/EPA
Hugo Keenan in action during his debut against Italy. Photograph: Brian Lawless/EPA

11 Hugo Keenan

Club: Leinster
Age: 24
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 92kg (14st 5lbs)
Caps: 1
Points: 10
Two tries last week in a very polished debut in all aspects of the game. Ireland will look to use his aerial ability irrespective of who he is marking.

10 Johnny Sexton (capt)

Club: Leinster
Age: 35
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 90kg (14st 2lbs)
Caps: 92
Points: 832
The Irish captain struck the decisive blow in 2018 in Paris and will be keen on another high-quality performance. His game management and place-kicking will be crucial to how his team fares.

9 Conor Murray

Club: Munster
Age: 31
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 93kg (14st 7lbs)
Caps: 82
Points: 87
The new laws regarding the breakdown have speeded up access to the ball and as he displayed last week, it allowed him a bigger imprint on the game.

1 Cian Healy

Club: Leinster
Age: 33
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 117kg (18st 4lbs)
Caps: 99
Points: 25
Ireland’s sixth centurion in appearance terms although his focus will be firmly on team duties. Apart from domestic chores it’d be nice to see him get a gallop or two.

2 Rob Herring

Club: Ulster
Age: 30
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 106kg (16st 7lbs)
Caps: 12
Points: 5
The lineout is a primary battleground – France are very adept in that area – and if Ireland do go to the corners, they’ll want to maximise the return. He’s very competitive at the breakdown and runs good trail lines.

3 Andrew Porter

Club: Leinster
Age: 24
Height: 6’
Weight: 114kg (17st 11lbs)
Caps: 27
Points: 5
He’s taken on the heavy lifting for province and country in terms of the tighthead role since Tadhg Furlong’s injury. The scrum is another key collision point into which all eight must buy in. He’s difficult to stop close to the line.

Tadhg Beirne is tackled by Gianmarco Lucchesi of Italy.Photograph: Brian Lawless/EPA
Tadhg Beirne is tackled by Gianmarco Lucchesi of Italy.Photograph: Brian Lawless/EPA

4 Tadhg Beirne

Club: Munster
Age: 28
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 113kg (17st 9lbs)
Caps: 14
Points: 15
Athletic, excellent hands and intelligent support lines are boxes that he ticks but it is his ability to poach at the breakdown that makes him a real nuisance and turnover/penalty specialist.

5 James Ryan

Club: Leinster
Age: 24
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 116kg (18st 3lbs)
Caps: 27
Points: 15
A quieter game against Italy by his lofty standards, he’ll be keen to resume a more central influence while taking responsibility for calling the lineout. World class on his day.

6 Caelan Doris

Club: Leinster
Age: 22
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 106kg (16st 7lbs)
Caps: 3
Points: 0
He has oodles of power but what helps him fight his way through contact, and often out the other side, is his footwork and ability to take tackles on his terms. An excellent footballer.

7 Will Connors

Club: Leinster
Age: 24
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 100kg (15st 8lbs)
Caps: 1
Points: 5
Last week’s man-of-the-match on debut, his tackle technique provides opportunities for others while he uses his feet well in contact. He must balance his desire to get off a scrum with ensuring that he doesn’t leave his prop unattended. The Saracens game reinforced that lesson.

8 CJ Stander

Club: Munster
Age: 30
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 114kgs (17st 11lbs)
Caps: 42
Points: 55
The ultimate team player that takes responsibility in a hands-on manner, no matter how unpromising the situation while he’s added other elements to his game. A leader in the truest sense.

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