Heaslip set to return for French test

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip is on course to make his comeback in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with France.

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip is on course to make his comeback in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with France.

Heaslip and winger Andrew Trimble came through training this afternoon without suffering any adverse reaction to their respective ankle and hand injuries.

However, flanker Stephen Ferris has been ruled out of the showdown at the Aviva Stadium after losing his battle with a knee injury.

Ireland will name their team tomorrow as originally scheduled having considered delaying the announcement until Friday to give the trio further time to recover.

Manager Paul McNaughton said: “We felt earlier today we weren’t in a position to name the team as there was too much doubt on the fitness of several players.

“But following training this afternoon, Andrew Trimble and Jamie Heaslip came through the session okay.

“We felt there was no need to actually hold off on selection, so we will go ahead as planned tomorrow.

“We were also able to confirm that Stephen Ferris is still not ready for a return to play and has been ruled out of the France game.”

Should he avoid a setback later in the week, Heaslip looks set to displace Sean O’Brien from the number eight jersey although O'Brien will surely be accommodated on one of the flanks.

The 27-year-old Leinster back row, who is viewed as Brian O’Driscoll’s successor as captain, was Ireland’s standout performer last autumn and his return will be welcomed.

Leinster winger Fergus McFadden is likely to make way for Trimble, who was in fine form until he broke a bone in his right hand last month.

McFadden made his Test debut in Saturday’s dramatic 13-11 victory over Italy in Rome.

France, buoyed by their dashing 34-21 triumph against Scotland in Paris, have made one injury enforced change for the trip to Dublin.

Centre Maxime Mermoz has a shoulder injury so Damien Traille moves from full-back to midfield where he will partner Aurelien Rougerie.

Clement Poitrenaud is promoted from the bench to plug the gap at full-back with Yannick Jauzion called up to the replacements.

“We go with stability,” said France coach Marc Lievremont.

It will be Traille’s third different position in as many games, having played at fly-half in the 59-16 thrashing by Australia in November and full-back last weekend.

“Damien is better physically and mentally than he was in November,” said Lievremont.

“I liked his performance at the back. He can play in many positions.”

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