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Iain Henderson and Rory Best set for Ireland return

All set: Ulster’s Iain Henderson will start for Ireland on Sunday
All set: Ulster’s Iain Henderson will start for Ireland on Sunday

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt looks set to restore a host of his first-choice starters, including Ulster's Rory Best and Iain Henderson, in a bid to finish the Six Nations on a high with victories over France and Wales.

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Fit-again pair CJ Stander and Garry Ringrose are expected to return to the team for the first time since the defeat to England on the opening weekend, while skipper Best, Cian Healy and James Ryan come back in against the French on Sunday after being rested for the win over Italy.

Sean O'Brien will pay the price for an under par performance in Rome with Josh van der Flier set to return along­side Peter O'Mahony and Stander in the back-row that started against England.

Ryan will be joined by Henderson in the second-row, while Tadhg Beirne may come on to the bench for the first time in this tournament, meaning Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane would miss out. The decision to pick Ringrose ahead of Chris Farrell is expected to be the only change in the backline, with the Leinster star resuming his partnership with Bundee Aki.

Probable Ireland team to face France

(15-9) R Kearney (Leinster); K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J STOCKDALE (ULSTER); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); (1-8) C Healy (Leinster), R BEST (ULSTER, capt), T Furlong (Leinster); I HENDERSON (ULSTER), J Ryan (Leinster); P O'Mahony (Munster), J van der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster).

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