Andy Farrell’s decision to back Billy Burns this week against France in the Guinness Six Nations has been praised by the Irish public.
The Ulster outhalf replaces Johnny Sexton as one of four forced changes to the starting XV that lost to Wales 21-16 last Sunday.
The loss ended on an unfortunate note for Ireland and Burns, whose kick to corner in the final play of the game went dead, preventing a 14-man Ireland from having a chance to snatch victory at the end.
The week took a sour turn for the four-cap No10 in the wake of his error, as he faced a barrage of abuse online, which included trolls editing his Wikipedia page.
But with Sexton out with a head injury sustained during the Wales match, Burns has been backed by Farrell and the Irish public to respond this week. The 26-year-old starts ahead of Ross Byrne at the Aviva Stadium, who will start on the bench.
Then again, a French team that are now favourites to win the tournament are a tough opponent for any player who may be slightly low on confidence, particularly in what is only Burns’ second start for Ireland (the first being against Georgia in the autumn). But that only adds to the redemption story.
Elsewhere, the inclusion of Rhys Ruddock at blindside flanker in the place of the suspended Peter O’Mahony has been welcomed. The Leinster flanker’s absence from the matchday 23 was met with indignation last week following his spellbinding form in the Guinness PRO14.
Iain Henderson also replaces James Ryan in the starting line-up, who is another player with a head injury. The Ulster lock will captain Ireland for the first time. A hamstring injury has also ruled Conor Murray out of contention, and he has been replaced by Jamison Gibson-Park.
I admire the ? on billy burns to go for the actual 5m
Not shy away and hit the 22 like many others
Allez les verts ??????
— Simon Zebo (@SimonZebo) February 7, 2021
Big responsibility on the more experienced Henshaw & Ringrose to help Billy Burns implement @IrishRugby game plan this weekend. They need to be his eyes. Looking forward to being back on @ITVRugby for it. https://t.co/OmRVQcIMCX
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) February 12, 2021
I hope Billy Burns kills it this weekend.
— Lima Sopoaga (@LimaSopoaga) February 12, 2021
Great to see Billy Burns picked at 10. Keeping the faith in a good player. Tough game though if France play like the do!
— simon gillott (@gillykite) February 12, 2021
Love that Faz is putting his faith in Burns after last week with Sexton out. Irish fans and rugby fans are quick to forget the strong autumn he had. He’s done more in an Irish shirt than the calls for Ross Byrne. Also arguably too soon for Harry Byrne https://t.co/w4jE5wQEvt
— Joe O'Shea (@Joe_OShea25) February 12, 2021
Things you love to see! Burns starting at 10 ?? a small mistake shouldn’t define you as a player! Back on the horse ?? and the best of luck to him ? https://t.co/9nrvM8Zcd3
— Lee pearson ?? (@leepearson11) February 12, 2021
Great to see B Burns get a chance at 10 with Sexton ruled out, find me a player that hasn’t made a mistake in the past, optimistic the boys can put in a good 80 on Sunday #COYBIG https://t.co/SIJ7vdRKeP
— Michael Thompson (@michael_389) February 12, 2021
Very excited to see how Billy Burns responds this week. This is how Irish rugby learns where it’s at, test players on big occasions. Glad to see Farrell stick to his guns on it. https://t.co/PlmfVnVFzN
— Robbie Fahy (@fahy_rob) February 12, 2021
Good luck Billy Burns! Let’s have a redemption story for the ages lad! #TeamOfUs
— Barry P. M. (@Ltm67) February 12, 2021
Delighted for Burns – placing this confidence in him speaks volumes and after the abuse he received I hope he hears it loud and clear.
— _livealittle__ (@_livealittle__) February 12, 2021
Delighted for Burns. Great vote of confidence shown by the coaches. Bring on the French
— Le Big Mac (@mpjociara) February 12, 2021
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