Six Nations 2019: Jordan Larmour to start at full-back after late Rob Kearney withdrawal


Full-back Larmour scored a hat-trick against Italy in Chicago last November
Six Nations: Ireland v France
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Sunday, 10 March Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary online.

Full-back Rob Kearney has been ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with France.

The Leinster man was set to start the game in Dublin but confirmation of his withdrawal came less than two hours before kick-off.

Kearney’s provincial teammate Jordan Larmour will take his place with Andrew Conway coming into the replacements.

Earlier this week it was revealed that flanker Sean O’Brien had been left out of the Ireland match-day 23.

Josh van der Flier is named at open-side flanker in one of seven changes to the team that unconvincingly saw off Italy 26-16 in Rome two weeks ago.

Fit-again Garry Ringrose comes in at outside centre with Cian Healy and Rory Best restored to the front row.

Iain Henderson and James Ryan start in the second row and CJ Stander returns from injury to play at number eight.

Despite struggling with a series of injuries in recent years O’Brien has been a regular starter in the Ireland side since establishing himself during the 2011 Six Nations.

The Leinster forward, 32, has made five Test match appearances for the British and Irish Lions as part of the 2013 and 2017 touring squads to Australia and New Zealand.

The 55-times capped Carlow native, who will join London Irish in December after the World Cup, started all three Tests in the Lions’ drawn series with the All Blacks in 2017.

In the continuing absence of the injured Robbie Henshaw, who has not recovered sufficiently from a dead leg, Ringrose is reunited with Bundee Aki in midfield after missing the wins over Scotland and Italy.

Best returns to captain the side and his Ulster team-mate Iain Henderson, another who has recovered from injury, partners Ryan, who was rested for the trip to Italy.

Stander slots into the back row having overcome the fractured cheekbone and eye socket he sustained in the early stages of the defeat by England on 2 February.

Niall Scannell offers cover for Best off the bench after Sean Cronin was omitted from the squad for the game while Ultan Dillane is selected among the replacements ahead of Tadhg Beirne and Quinn Roux, having started alongside Connacht provincial team-mate Roux at Stadio Olimpico.

Others named on the bench include Ulster scrum-half John Cooney, who is chosen ahead of Kieran Marmion, despite the Connacht number nine scoring two tries against the Ospreys last weekend,

Jack Carty, who made his Test debut against Italy, and Leinster back row Jack Conan, are also named as substitutes.

Van der Flier ‘hasn’t let us down’

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed O’Brien’s omission was on form, with the Ireland boss excited by Van Der Flier starting in the back-row.

“Josh Van Der Flier hasn’t let us down at all. So it’s a perfect opportunity to put him back in there, so he’s very much keen and ready to go,” explained Schmidt.

“With Sean, Jack Conan was initially due to start against Scotland, so we wanted to give him an opportunity to get back in with a foot in the door and demonstrate what he can do off the bench.

“As tempted as we were with Tadhg Beirne, he’s just been a little bit sore this week coming back from injury. He was in the mix but he’s going to get the weekend off, to come back in refreshed and train next week.

“Ultan Dillane has played very well for us, so we wanted to reward his performance in Italy.”

Ireland: Larmour; Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong; Henderson, James Ryan; O’Mahony, van der Flier, Stander.

Replacements: Scannell, Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Dillane, Conan, Cooney, Carty, Conway.

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