Ireland stay unchanged for daunting Paris test


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The Independent Online

Ireland have named the 22-man squad which beat Italy 42-10 in Dublin last weekend for Sunday's Six Nations game against France in Paris. The same players were selected for the original visit to the French capital on 11 February. That game was cancelled 10 minutes before kick-off, due to a frozen pitch.

The Munster scrum-half Conor Murray has held off a challenge from Leinster's Eoin Reddan, who injected pace into the game after coming off the bench in the second half against Italy. The lock forward Donncha O'Callaghan and open-side flanker Sean O'Brien also faced fierce competition to stay in the starting XV but Declan Kidney, the head coach, has retained both.

"We took a look at how we played against Italy," Kidney said. "We have an eight-day turnaround which has given us more time to freshen up. The errors that were made we can adjust and we'll be better for having that 80 minutes under the belt. The lads who came on against Italy did exceptionally well and made a hugely positive impact but I had to weigh that up against the lads who did a lot of the unseen work earlier in the game."

Ireland have won only once in the French capital since 1972, and twice since 1952. Their last victory came in 2000, in a match that was notable for the emergence of Brian O'Driscoll. The centre scored a hat-trick in that game but he will not play in this year's Six Nations, after undergoing shoulder surgery.

France have won 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two sides, which include World Cup pool games in 2003 and 2007 and two warm-up matches last year.

"We've all been to hostile environments with our provinces in the past," said Ireland's captain, the lock Paul O'Connell. "We must drawn on that experience."

Worcester have confirmed that the Scotland wing Nikki Walker will join them from the Ospreys next season. The 29-year-old has spent six years with the Welsh region after joining from the now-defunct Borders side. Walker suffered a knee injury in August but he is close to a return to full fitness.