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Ulstermen can be Ireland match winners, says Joe Schmidt

So why are Jackson, Henderson and Trimble not in from the start for Ireland's huge clash with France?

By Jonathan Bradley

There was disappointment for Ulster's Ireland contingent at Carton House yesterday as Paddy Jackson, Iain Henderson and Andrew Trimble were named only on the bench for tomorrow's Six Nations clash with France (Aviva Stadium, 4.50pm kick-off).

Captain Rory Best will now be the only man from the northern province in the starting line-up.

Head coach Joe Schmidt, however, said contributions from his replacements could be the difference in a game that Ireland must win to keep their championship hopes alive. But his pronouncement does beg the question: if Schmidt sees the players on the bench as potential matchwinners, why are they not on from the start?

"We really hope the replacements are primed, because the French replacements are very strong and the last 30 minutes will be keenly contested," Schmidt explained. "We have a good mix of young, enthusiastic players and experienced players like Andrew Trimble who is excited to be back."

The man entitled to feel most aggrieved must surely be out-half Paddy Jackson, who has lost his place to fit-again Johnny Sexton after impressing in the first two rounds of action. Schmidt revealed, however: "He took the decision with a smile and said I'll be ready when you need me from the bench."


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