|Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Sunday, 14 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and app. Live text coverage and video highlights on BBC Sport website and app.|
It may only be round two of the 2021 Six Nations but Ireland have declared Sunday’s match with unbeaten France as a “must win” for their title ambitions.
Ireland lost narrowly in Wales last weekend despite playing with 14 men for 66 minutes and discipline will be crucial if they are to topple the tournament favourites.
France are on an upward curve under head coach Fabien Galthie and will aim to cement their own championship credentials by winning in Dublin for the first time since 2011.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has made four enforced changes from the side that lost in Cardiff last weekend.
Captain Johnny Sexton and second row James Ryan have failed to recover from concussion, scrum-half Conor Murray has been ruled out with a hamstring injury and flanker Peter O’Mahony is suspended.
Ulster fly-half Billy Burns and Leinster scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park make their first Six Nations starts, while Ulster lock Iain Henderson captains the side for the first time.
France have made two changes to the side that hammered Italy.
Clermont wing Damien Penaud replaces Teddy Thomas and Castres’ Anthony Jelonch comes in for Dylan Cretin in at blindside flanker, with Thomas and Cretin dropping to the bench.
Eddie Butler: France have tweaked their team, bringing in Penaud to deal with Ireland’s aerial threat to the wings, and Jelonch to add toughness to the back-row.
As for the home team, their future is suddenly their present – no Sexton and no Murray. Gibson-Park and Burns still fit an Irish template that works: kick high to get close to the line and then let the forwards rumble. France have selected accordingly.
Similarly, Rhys Ruddock and Gibson-Park may be briefed to deal with a specific threat – a pair chosen to keep Antoine Dupont in check. All very intriguing. Ireland 24 France 25
View from both camps
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell: “Every Test week always presents its own challenges. There has been a lot going on this week but we’re a squad and we’ve been a squad since we met up. Everyone has been swapping in and out.
“You always have at the back of your mind the ‘what if’ scenarios and here we are. We will give it our best shot, there is no doubt about that.”
France head coach Fabien Galthie: “Penaud fits the profile of the type of player which will allow us to be present in a sector of the game we imagine the Irish will rely on a lot, going down the blindside and also putting the ball up in the air.”
“He, to me, appears prepared for this type of battle.”
Ireland: 15-Keenan, 14-Earls, 13-Ringrose, 12-Henshaw, 11-Lowe, 10-Burns, 9-Gibson-Park; 1-Healy, 2-Herring, 3-Porter, 4-Beirne, 5-Henderson (capt), 6-Ruddock, 7-Van der Flier, 8-Stander.
Replacements: 16-Kelleher, 17-E Byrne, 18-Furlong, 19-Dillane, 20-Connors, 21-Casey, 22-R Byrne, 23-Larmour.
France: 15-Dulin, 14-Penaud, 13-Vincent, 12-Fickou, 11-Villiere, 10-Jalivert, 9-Dupont; 1-Baille, 2-Marchand, 3-Haouas, 4-Le Roux, 5-Willemse; 6-Jelonch, 7-Ollivon (capt), 8-Alldritt.
Replacements: 6-Bourgarit, 17-Kolingar, 18-Atonio, 19-Taofifenua, 20-Cretin, 21-Serin, 22-Bouthier, 23-Thomas.
- France’s 35-27 win in October was only their second victory in 10 matches against Ireland.
- The Irish last lost back-to-back games against Les Bleus in the Six Nations in 2010 and 2011.
- Eleven of the last 14 meetings have been settled by a single-figure margin.
- Ireland’s 26-14 home win in 2019 was their biggest victory margin against France in the Six Nations.
- Ireland have never lost their opening two games of a Six Nations campaign.
- The last time Ireland won against France without Johnny Sexton in the team was in 2009.
- They won seven turnovers in the opening round, more than any other nation.
- France have won three of their last four away games in the Six Nations, as many victories as they had managed in their previous 18 games on the road in the championship (D1, L14).
- Antoine Dupont had four try-assists against Italy, equalling the record for a Six Nations match set by Frederic Michalak against Italy in 2006.
- France made nine offloads in their win over Italy, more than any other team in the opening weekend.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Touch judges: Wayne Barnes (England) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
— to www.bbc.co.uk