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Kidney gives Ferris time to prove fitness for French

Coach Declan Kidney has promoted Munster’s Keith Earls and dropped Ulster wing Andrew Trimble to the bench for Saturday’s Irish team to face France in Paris.

But he has left the door open for Stephen Ferris by pencilling in the Ulster blindside’s name, giving him time to prove his fitness.

Other than Earls for Trimble and — best case scenario — Ferris for McLaughlin, it’s a case of as you were for this weekend’s eagerly awaited showdown.

A week ago, in announcing the side to face Italy in the RBS 6 Nations Championship opener, Kidney said experience had taught him never to make decisions until required to do so.

Yesterday was one such occasion. Kidney also confirmed that other than the unavailability of Donncha O’Callaghan injury had not been a factor in his choices.

“Other than the long-term ones, everyone was up for it,” he said.

The decision everyone wanted to hear was Kidney’s call for the number 10 jersey and forced to choose between Ronan O’Gara and Jonathan Sexton, he opted for the former who kicked a perfect six out of six last weekend.

His experience in the heat of intense battle — and Saturday promises to be just that — was a factor. With 47 6 Nations starts and a record 515 points in this particular competition to his credit, clearly that weighed heavily in his favour.

Explaining his thinking in including Earls ahead of Trimble, Kidney went on: “Keith went very well against South Africa. He didn’t do anything wrong in December-January and so I explained to them that I wanted to give Andrew a go last week.”

”Andrew went well, but Keith hadn’t done anything wrong so I believe he deserves his go here.”

The bench is expected be trimmed from nine to seven tomorrow.

Kidney added that all of those named as the replacements would travel, with final decisions being made “by Friday”.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster, captain), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster); Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Tomas O’Leary (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), John Hayes (Munster); Leo Cullen (Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Munster); A.N. Other, David Wallace (Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: Rory Best (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster).

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