Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Heaslip makes Ireland return

Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip returns to Ireland's back row for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France at Aviva Stadium.

The Lions number eight has been out since December because of an ankle injury and missed last weekend's 13-11 victory over Italy, but has been passed fit to face the Grand Slam champions.

Denis Leamy of Munster makes way for Heaslip by dropping to the bench, with Sean O'Brien moving across the back row to blindside flanker. Shane Jennings, who featured among the replacements in Rome, is displaced by Leamy.

The return of Heaslip, Ireland's outstanding player of last autumn, is the only change to the side that scraped home against Italy.

Ronan O'Gara remains on the bench despite landing the match-winning drop goal two minutes from time with Jonathan Sexton continuing at fly-half.

Sexton's half-back partner Tomas O'Leary has been given a chance to make amends for a sub-standard performance against the Azzurri.

The front row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross have also survived intact despite enduring a challenging afternoon at the Stadio Flaminio.

Ireland went desperately close to enduring their first Six Nations defeat by Italy, largely thanks to their dismal finishing, and they will need to be far more precise against France.

Les Bleus opened their championship with a dashing 34-21 victory Scotland in Paris and are favourites to prevail at Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

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