Ireland will host France next weekend in Round Four of the Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium with something of a point to prove to their recent doubters after an incredible 2018. An opening tournament defeat to England led to two further average performances for Joe Schmidt's side despite recording wins over Scotland & Italy.
Although Ireland remain outsiders to retain their title, they are still in with a glimmer of hope but will rely heavily the England and Wales dropping points and also failing to notch up important bonus-point wins. France come into the clash after posting their most credible effort of the tournament when defeating Scotland in Paris.
The down week following the victory over Italy is probably the last thing Joe Schmidt would have wanted as his team haven't played with the same cohesion that we have come to expect from his side. Handling errors and set-piece inaccuracies have come to the fore in recent weeks which is sure to frustrate the perfectionist inside of Schmidt.
As the team prepare to face Les Bleus next weekend, plenty of changes in the 23 are expected with players coming back from injury and others facing the wrath of the Schmidt axe. With a four-try bonus point win required to ensure Ireland enter the final round with title aspirations, we expect him to select his most trusted players to set up a exciting clash in Cardiff.
Here is the starting XV we expect Ireland to choose against France next Saturday
Healy, Best, Furlong
O' Mahony, Stander, Van der Flier
Stockdale, Kearney, Earls