Ireland v France: Joe Schmidt names Ireland team for Six Nations match against French

Ireland captain 'Rory Best
Ireland captain 'Rory Best

Fit-again Iain Henderson will start against France as Ireland return to their Six Nations Championship defence.

Henderson is one of seven changes for the visit of the French to the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Sunday to the side which faced Italy two weeks ago in Rome.

Sean O’Brien has been left out of the match-day with Josh van der Flier named at open-side flanker.

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

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

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.

Rory 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.

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.

Ulster’s John Cooney retains his place on the bench in spite of Connacht scrumhalf Kieran Marmion being available again after injury.

Ireland: Kearney; 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, Larmour.