Three Ulster players are named in Ireland’s starting team while another two are replacements as Ireland kick off their World Rugby Championship campaign tomorrow evening against the hosts, France at the Stade Aime-Giral, Perpignan. (KO 20:00 UK/Irish time)

Matthew Dalton starts in the second row while Joe Dunleavy and Matthew Agnew occupy the wing forward positions. Jonny Stewart and Aaron Hall are named the Ulster players named on the bench.

Ireland were dealt with a blow this week when Tom O’Toole was ruled out of the tournament with an injury with more emphasis being placed on Jack Aungier who starts at tighthead prop. Diarmuid Barron is named at hooker while James French is Ireland’s loosehead prop. Leinster’s Jack Dunne partners Ulster’s Dalton at lock. Highly rated St Mary’s forward, Caelan Doris captains the side from No.8 instead of the injured Jack O’Sullivan.

Surprisingly, Jonny Stewart has to contend with a spot on the bench as Hugh O’Sullivan is named as scrum half. Harry Byrne retains his position from the Six Nations at outhalf while Peter Sylvester partners Tommy O’Brien in the centres. Dan Hurley and Tom Roche make up the left wing and right wing positions with Michael Silvester starting at fullback.

France head into the tournament in a buoyant mood after clinching the Six Nations title on points difference over England earlier in the year and recorded a 34-24 victory over Ireland in that tournament.

This French side is littered with talent with Romain N’tamack, son of former France star Emile N’tamack starting at outhalf tomorrow. The Toulouse academy player scored two tries against Ireland in the Six Nations and has been a regular in the side since the 2017 Six Nations campaign. Having made his Toulouse debut in October 2017, he poses a real threat to Ireland with the ball in hand.

N’tamack is not the only French player with senior experience in this French side; outside centre Pierre-Louis Barassi made five appearances for Lyon in the 2016/17 Challenge Cup while Cameron Woki has appeared for Bordeaux in the same competition as well as the TOP14. Daniel Brennan, son of former Ireland lock Trevor Brennan, starts in the front row.

Ireland’s Tommy O’Brien put in a good shift against England in the concluding Six Nations and marked his performance with a superb read to intercept a pass. Caelan Doris is yet another forward to be wheeled off the Leinster production line. His power and strong running was an asset during the 2017 U20 Six Nations and made his first senior appearance for his province against Connacht.

The FRU predicts: France are favourites for this match and will be expected to open their campaign with a win. A win for Ireland against a very good side would boost confidence ahead of another tricky match against South Africa on June 3rd. France by 5.

France Ireland
Clement Laporte 15 Michael Silvester
Lucas Tauzin 14 Tom Roche
Pierre-Louis Barassi 13 Tommy O’Brien
Adrien Seguret 12 Peter Sylvester
Maxime Marty 11 Dan Hurley
Romain N’tamack 10 Harry Byrne
Arthur Coville 9 Hugh O’Sullivan
Hassane Kolingar 1 James French
Maxime Lamothe 2 Diarmuid Barron
Daniel Brennan 3 Jack Aungier
Thomas Lavault 4 Matthew Dalton
Kilian Geraci 5 Jack Dunne
Sacha Zegueur 6 Joe Dunleavy
Cameron Woki 7 Matthew Agnew
Charlie Francoz 8 Caelan Doris
Guillaume Marchand 16 Dan Sheehan
Jean Baptiste Gros 17 Jordan Duggan
Demba Bamba 18 Joe Byrne
Pierre-Henri Azagoh 19 Charlie Ryan
Jordan Joseph 20 Aaron Hall
Jules Gimbert 21 Jonny Stewart
Louis Carbonel 22 Conor Dean
Matthis Lebel 23 Sean O’Brien

#SUFTUM