Ireland v France
Ireland recall Lions for France
ESPN Staff
February 12, 2015

Ireland have recalled a host of experienced faces for Saturday's game against France in Dublin.

Rory Best was an injury doubt heading into the match having sustained a bang to the head against Italy last weekend but he has completed all the return-to-play protocols and retakes his spot in the side. Ireland boss Joe Schmidt usually demands all his players train the Tuesday before a Test in order to merit selection, but he has made an exception for Best.

"He's totally asymptomatic, he did contact today," Schmidt said. "He's ticked all the boxes of the protocols of the return to play. As long as he remains asymptomatic for 24 hours after today's session he will be fully cleared to play.

"Rory was totally asymptomatic from post-game through to now. We just kept both Sean Cronin and Richardt Strauss ready to go because that's the pertinent thing to do. With Rory passing all his markers and doing contact today we would predict and are confident he will be available to play."

Ireland's most-capped hooker will make his 80th Test appearance at the weekend, with fellow British and Irish Lions Johnny Sexton, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip all returning from injury. Sexton is back after completing his mandatory 12-week stand-down following four concussions in 12 months.

"Johnny's very fit, he's done a lot of training with us, he's spent the last 12 weeks training; he just hasn't done any contact," Schmidt said of Sexton. "He's done plenty of contact this week and he's primed and ready to go. I think he's feeling very fresh. Sometimes the reverse can happen when you do a lot of contact and you feel very beaten up."

The Racing Metro fly-half replaces Ian Keatley at number 10 while Cian Healy returns after hamstring trouble that has dogged him since September to take a seat on the bench. Flanker O'Brien has his second chance to make his first Test appearance since November 2013 after a hamstring tweak forced him out in the warm-up in Italy last weekend.

No.8 Heaslip returns to the starting line-up after shoulder and knee problems, while Isaac Boss retains his place on Ireland's bench despite Eoin Reddan's return to fitness. Keatley drops out of the squad altogether despite starting at fly-half in Rome last weekend, with Ian Madigan covering all inside-back positions and full-back from the bench.

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe, J Payne (Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), S Zebo (Munster), J Sexton (Racing Metro), C Murray (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross, D Toner (both Leinster), P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony (both Munster), S O'Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster)

Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, M Moore (all Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), I Boss, I Madigan (both Leinster), F Jones (Munster)

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