Sexton and Heaslip back for Ireland to face the French

Johnny Sexton makes his return

Johnny Sexton makes his return

Johnny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip return to the Irish rugby team to face France in the Six Nations on Saturday, with the pair now fully recovered from injuries that saw them miss the opening-day win over Italy last Saturday.

Flanker Sean O'Brien is also in the starting XV named today by coach Joe Schmidt. O'Brien had been chosen to face Italy, but strained a hamstring during the warm-up.

The return of Sexton and O'Brien means there is no room in the match-day squad for out-half Ian Keatley and flanker Tommy O'Donnell even though the pair scored all but seven of Ireland's 26 points in Rome last weekend.

Keatley is replaced as stand-in out-half by Ian Madigan because Madigan can cover the centre and full-back positions while on the bench. 

Ireland XV to face France:

Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Paul O’Connell (captain), Devin Toner, Mike Ross, Rory Best, Jack McGrath.

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Iain Henderson 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan 23 Felix Jones.

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