Sexton named at out-half in Ireland team to face France

Johnny Sexton will make is first start in this year's Six Nations with Joe Schmidt naming him at out half for Saturday's clash with France

Elsewhere Jack McGrath returns to the starting line up with Peter O' Mahony and Andrew Trimble returning to the bench.

Captain Rory Best also returns to the starting line up and he joins Tadhg Furlong and McGrath in the front row, with Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner starting in the second row.

The back-row remains unchanged with CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip starting.

Sexton is joined in the back line with Conor Murray playing scrum half and in the centres, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose continue their partnership.

Rob Kearney keeps his place at full back with Munster duo Keith Earls and Simon Zebo on the wings.

Munster hooker Niall Scannell returns to the bench after starting against Italy, as does Cian Healy.

John Ryan and Iain Henderson also start on the bench with the retuning O' Mahony covering the back row.

Paddy Jackson, who started the opening two games for Ireland covers Sexton at out half with Kieran Marmion and Andrew Trimble also named in the 23.

It is a must-win game for both sides as defeat would rule them out of the running for the Championship.

Ireland suffered an opening day defeat to Scotland before a storming win over Italy, while France suffered a similar fate, narrowly losing to England in Round One and going on to beat the Scots two weeks ago.

Ireland v France kicks off at 4.50pm on Saturday, February 25.


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