Sexton named at out-half in Ireland team to face France

Skills coach Richie Murphy this week insisted Sexton had no "divine right" to selection, but boss Joe Schmidt has still drafted the British and Irish Lions star straight back into his starting line-up. Two years ago Johnny came back in against the French and played really well.

Joe Schmidt has been able to recall captain Rory Best, outhalf Johnny Sexton and loose-head Jack McGrath for Ireland's first home game of the 2017 Six Nations.

Sexton's inclusion is one of three changes for the Irish, with Rory Best returning to skipper the side from hooker following illness, while Jack McGrath replaces Cian Healy at loosehead.

"Based on how things have gone in the past, we'll probably see both players in some positions at some stage in the game."

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"He's done a lot of conditioning in the period of his injury, and fitness is never really an issue for Johnny, it's just making sure he's fully fit".

"[Johnny] trained well today, trained well on Tuesday, and as was expected he's highly motivated to get into the game on Saturday".

"We're confident Johnny can and Johnny is confident too".

Ireland are as close to full-strength as they are ever going to get for this Saturday's visit of France.

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"He took it with a smile and said I'll be ready when you need me off the bench", he said, with Ian Keatley dropping out of the match-day squad.

On the replacements bench, Peter O'Mahony and Andrew Trimble return from their injury absences.

Full-back Rob Kearney has also been passed fit to start after being withdrawn late in Ireland's record 63-10 rout of Italy, with initial reports suggesting the bicep injury he sustained in Rome could keep him out of the rest of the tournament.

Keith Earls and Simon Zebo are on the wing, while Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw will again link up in the centre as Conor Murray and Sexton renew their partnership at half-back.

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