Wales have their star back and their pop star back on the bench for the France game. Thankfully Gatland hasn’t gone for Henson to start and so hopefully the hero worship of a win won’t be entirely placed upon his shoulders. Ireland have stuck with the team that have got them to the top of the table. France look to be having a nightmare with injuries particularly losing Beauxis, the only fly half in the squad. As everyone is so fond of saying you can’t write off the French and the replacement Trinh-Duc has previously kept Beauxis out of the side so the change shouldn’t be that catastrophic. That said, as the occasion draws nearer little things seem to be moving in favour of Wales. I did think the nighttime kick off would play a part in unsettling Wales but feel that any effect it may have had is seriously diminished by the bruising encounters of last weekend, as all the home nations enjoyed a weekend off. Lièvremont is not happy and rightly so, hardly seems fair.
Ireland have no such worries and have stuck with the team that have got them to the top of the table. Given the state of Paddy Wallace on the sidelines in Italy, thats a fairly impressive feat, also Darcy has been playing well and is the established partner for O’Driscoll but fair play to Kidney in that Wallace earned his place and now deserves to keep it. Bar that the only thing to deal with is the opposition, as Kidney himself said a fortnight ago “Confident of Ireland beating England? Never”. Most Irish fans would agree with the sentiment, we have a good recent record without doubt, but in much the same way you never know when a French side will turn around and win a game, the same could be said for Ireland and losing them. England shouldn’t win the game, I wouldn’t like to tempt fate and say they won’t
Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll (capt), P Wallace, L Fitzgerald; R O’Gara, T O’Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.
Replacements: R Best, T Court, M O’Driscoll, D Leamy, P Stringer, G D’Arcy, G Murphy.
Wales: Lee Byrne; Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Michael Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones (capt), Martyn Williams, Andy Powell.
Replacements: Huw Bennett, John Yapp, Luke Charteris, Dafydd Jones, Dwayne Peel, James Hook, Gavin Henson.