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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Jared Payne is ruled out for French crunch test

Jared Payne is expected to return to the backline if they come through this morning’s training session unscathed
Jared Payne is expected to return to the backline if they come through this morning’s training session unscathed

Jared Payne will miss Sunday’s crucial pool decider against France.

Ireland had yesterday reported that all 31 players were fit and available for selection but it seems as though Payne hasn’t recovered from the foot injury that ruled him out of last week’s win over Italy

Joe Schmidt presumably doesn’t want to risk Payne ahead of next week’s quarter-final which means that Keith Earls will continue in the number 13 jersey alongside Robbie Henshaw.

There is also a surprise in the second-row with the in-form Iain Henderson losing out to Devin Toner who has proven himself against France in the past.

Toner’s lineout ability and his work in the maul has seen him get the nod with Joe Schmidt favouring Henderson’s explosiveness from the bench.

Cian Healy returns to the starting XV in place of Jack McGrath who drops to the bench while Rob Kearney (glute) is also fit enough to take his place at full-back in what his the third of three changes from last week.

Richardt Strauss is named amongst the replacements with Sean Cronin missing out as back up to Rory Best while Luke Fitzgerald is preferred to Simon Zebo as the 23rd man.

Ireland team to play France – (15-9) R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; (1-8) C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Reps – (16-23) R Strauss, J McGrath, N White, I Henderson, C Henry, E Reddan, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald..

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