Ireland v France, Six Nations Championship, February 7
Battle lines drawn for Ireland and France
February 3, 2009
France's scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde clears the ball out of scrum, France v Australia, Stade de France, Paris, France, November 22, 2008
Castres scrum-half Tillous-Borde will line-up alongside Stade Francais' Lionel Beauxis at Croke Park this weekend © Getty Images

Ireland boss Declan Kidney has named Ulster's Paddy Wallace as Brian O'Driscoll's centre partner for their opening Six Nations match with France at Croke Park on Saturday.

O'Driscoll and Wallace started together during Ireland's summer tour to Australia and New Zealand and will recreate their partnership on home soil for the first time. Luke Fitzgerald, O'Driscoll's regular centre partner for Leinster, starts on the wing in a back-three also comprising Rob Kearney at fullback and the Ospreys' Tommy Bowe. Munster half-backs Tomas O'Leary and Ronan O'Gara continue their partnership on the international stage.

In the pack, the back-row trio that started Ireland's final autumn international against Argentina are retained, with Stephen Ferris, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip getting the nod. Munster locks Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell start in the engine-room, with an all-Munster front-row of John Hayes, Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan ahead of them. Uncapped Ulster prop Tom Court starts on the bench.

Sebastien Tillous-Borde will be Lionel Beauxis' half-back partner for France as they look to take the points away from Croke Park. The Castres scrum-half gets the nod over Morgan Parra and will play for the first time alongside Beauxis for Les Bleus. Elsewhere, there are recalls in the back division for in-form Toulouse team-mates Florian Fritz and Clement Poitrenaud, at centre and fullback respectively.

Poitrenaud's inclusion means Maxime Medard moves to the wing where he displaces another Toulouse player, Cedric Heymans, who is on the bench. In the forwards, Imanol Harinordoquy has been named at number eight at the expense of Louis Picamoles, while Sale's Sebastien Chabal retains his spot at lock where he will partner captain Lionel Nallet.

Nicolas Mas is surprisingly left on the bench, with Benoit Lecouls preferred as prop.

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster); M Horan (Munster), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: R Best (Ulster), T Court (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester).

France: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Julien Malzieu (Clermont-Auvergne), Florian Fritz, Yannick Jauzion, Maxime Medard (all Toulouse); Lionel Beauxis (Stade Francais), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres); Lionel Faure (Sale), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Benoit Lecouls (Toulouse), Sebastien Chabal (Sale), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser (Leicester), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Bourgoin), Benoit Baby (Clermont-Auvergne), Cedric Heymans (Toulouse).

Referee: N. Owens

Assistant referees: D. Pearson D. Changleng

Television Match Official: G. De Santis


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