Kearney reaps reward for dynamic display

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The Independent Online

The Ireland coach, Eddie O'Sullivan, made six changes yesterday to his team for Saturday's Six Nations match away to the tournament favourites, France.

Ireland failed to dominate Italy in the teams' opener last weekend, despite the kicking of the fly-half Ronan O'Gara and darting runs of scrum-half Eoin Reddan, but O'Sullivan decided against wholesale changes. Three of the moves were positional and three in personnel, with one forced upon the coach by an arm injury to the inside centre Gordon D'Arcy during Saturday's victory.

Rob Kearney comes in for D'Arcy, as he did last Saturday, and will play on the left wing. Geordan Murphy switches to the right wing in place of Andrew Trimble, who joins the captain Brian O'Driscoll in midfield. "Kearney's inclusion is a reward for his display against Italy," O'Sullivan said yesterday.

Bernard Jackman comes in for Rory Best at hooker, while Denis Leamy switches to blindside flanker to accommodate Jamie Heaslip at No 8 after the Leinster back-rower was drafted in to replace the dropped Simon Easterby. "Both players [(Jackman and Heaslip] are ball carriers and that will be beneficial in Paris," O'Sullivan said.

All three of the players drafted into the side are from Leinster, with Kearney and Heaslip set to make their first starts in the Six Nations. "We've decided to give the Leinster guys a run," O'Sullivan said. "Their form has been good and we wanted to see how they got on last week after coming off the bench."

The Scotland lock Nathan Hines sat out training yesterday as nine players were added to the squad preparing for Saturday's encounter in Wales.

Hines suffered a calf injury during Sunday's 27-6 defeat by France. However, the Scotland team doctor, James Robson, expects the Perpignan forward to resume training today. Rory Lamont was yesterday ruled out of the Millennium Stadium encounter with shoulder and ankle injuries after starting at full-back against the French. But Andy Henderson was cleared to face Wales despite headbutting a French opponent on Sunday.

The Six Nations citing commissioner, Achille Reali, decided that no action should be taken following the incident involving Damien Traille as the Six Nations disciplinary panel felt there should be no citings from the weekend matches. Henderson, playing on his 28th birthday and winning his 50th cap, was incensed after Traille illegally blocked and then aimed a punch at the Scot.

Ireland (v France, Stade de France, Saturday KO 4pm): G Dempsey (Leinster); G Murphy (Leicester), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), A Trimble (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Wasps); M Horan (Munster), B Jackman (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli), P Stringer (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster), S Horgan (Leinster).

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