Payne loses out to Earls in Ireland side to face France

Cian Healy and Devin Toner both return to the XV for Sunday’s pool decider vs France

Speaking after the team announcement at Celtic Manor outside Cardiff, Gerry Thornley and Gavin Cummiskey look at Ireland's team to face France, and predict the outcome.

 

The French would have been mid-session this afternoon when word filtered through that Keith Earls will be wearing number 13 for Ireland on Sunday at the Millennium stadium. According to the IRFU communications department, Jared Payne’s “bruised foot” is not deemed bad enough to rule him out of this Pool D decider.

Yet the 29-year-old, again, does not make the 23-man squad. Payne supposedly trained fully Tuesday and today. It was initially called a “selection” rather than injury call.

“A mix of the two,” Joe Schmidt clarified. “We felt Keith played well last week amidst a flat effort...We felt if we put Jared back into the game on Sunday it may aggravate the foot. There was a bit of swelling post training on Wednesday.

“We’ll leave Jared for another week. We have another game next week and want a fully fit squad to choose from.”

Luke Fitzgerald is on the bench. Simon Zebo misses out entirely as Dave Kearney and Tommy Bowe are named on the wings.

Brice Dulin, at 5ft 9in, will presumably be targeted by Bowe off Johnny Sexton’s cross field probes.

Second Captains

earls try v italy

Another major surprise is Devin Toner’s selection ahead of Iain Henderson at second row with a view to launching the young Ulster man into the last quarter of what promises to be vicious hand to hand combat.

“In the back end of the game Iain will add value.”

Also, Richardt Strauss is named ahead of Seán Cronin as hooker cover for Rory Best.

“There are some very narrow decisions and I’m not sure we always get them right but we make them with next week in mind.”

Cian Healy has done enough to see off Jack McGrath at loosehead prop, which may have factored into Toner’s selection as Henderson can bring Healy-like power around the same time Philippe Saint Andre empties the huge French reinforcements.

Toner’s defensive lineout work and control around the Irish maul also appear to have influenced Schmidt’s decision making. This was an area of concern against Italy.

Still, Henderson is one of Ireland’s form players and guarantees go forward ball. Just not from kick-off.

But Zebo is the unluckiest man in all of this.

Schmidt added that he wants to win primarily to avoid the All Blacks with an eight day turnaround to just six for Ireland.

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Paul O’Connell (capt); Peter O’Mahony, Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald.

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