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Shock Ireland selection as skipper Johnny Sexton is ruled out

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland boss Andy Farrell has resisted the temptation to recall Lions duo Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw to his starting line-up for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations round two match away to France in Paris. However, there was one major selection surprise as skipper Johnny Sexton was ruled out after it emerged he had picked up a hamstring injury in training on Wednesday. 

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The unexpected absence of Sexton will see James Ryan skipper the Ireland team and Joey Carbery wear the No10 Six Nations jersey at the Stade de France, with Jack Carty providing cover from a bench that also features Henderson and Henshaw who take over in the replacements from Ryan Baird and James Hume.    

Saturday will be a rare Test start for Carbery, the 26-year-old who has started just nine times in his previous 28 appearances. He hasn’t before started in the Six Nations but he was the starting Ireland No10 in the series-ending November win over Argentina when Sexton was previously injured, so the starting Test level role isn’t something that he hasn’t done in quite a while.

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Sexton getting injured and not being able to play was a major shock when announced as all the pre-team announcement indications were that he would lead the team in Paris. He had spoken at length with media on Tuesday and used that briefing to brush aside negative comments about him from France in the expectation that his performance at Stade de France would do the talking.

Second row Henderson had been managing an ankle injury in the run-up last weekend’s championship opener against Wales while midfielder Henshaw had been affected by an adductor niggle that restricted his training.

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Both were back in harness on the training ground in Dublin this week but their efforts were only enough for them to make the bench as Farrell has stuck by 14 of the XV that took Wales to the cleaners on a 29-7 scoreline. 

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IRELAND (vs France, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 17 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 28 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 38 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 34 caps
11. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 1 cap
10. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 28 caps
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 13 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 17 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 53 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 26 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps CAPTAIN
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 13 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 36 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 23 caps

Replacements:
16. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 3 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 113 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 19 caps
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 80 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 93 caps
22. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps

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