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Ireland forced to make one change for clash against France

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Veteran scrumhalf Conor Murray will start for Ireland in their much-anticipated Six Nations clash with titleholders France on Saturday.

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There had been rumours he was a doubt due to injury but the 33-year-old will win his 102nd cap and line up alongside his long-time halfback partner and Ireland captain Johnny Sexton.

Murray has slipped to second choice since the emergence of Jamison Gibson-Park, but the latter is yet to recover from the hamstring injury that prevented him from playing in the opening 34-10 win over Wales.

Head coach Andy Farrell was forced to make just the one change to the starting line-up that impressed in the victory over Wales last Saturday.

Rob Herring comes in at hooker for Dan Sheehan, who has been ruled out due to injury. Ronan Kelleher has recovered from a hamstring injury and will fill the hooker spot on the replacement bench.

Herring will be partnered in the front row by Andrew Porter – who will win his 50th cap – and Finlay Bealham.

After an eye-catching turn against the Welsh, Australia-born Bealham gets another run-out as regular first-choice British and Irish Lions star Tadhg Furlong is still struggling with a calf injury.

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Joining Porter on the 50-cap mark will be lock James Ryan, the pair having made their debuts together against the United States in June 2017, and replacement prop Dave Kilcoyne, who first donned the green jersey way back in November 2012.

The clash is a match-up between the two top-ranked sides in the world with No.1 Ireland bidding for a record 13th successive home win.

France are on a record run of 14 consecutive victories under Fabien Galthie and are the last side to have beaten the Irish at Lansdowne Road, in the 2021 Six Nations.

Indeed the French are the sole top-tier side that Farrell is yet to get the better of since he took over at the helm after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Bundee Aki.

Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT; 15.15 France time)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand))

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