Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is expecting the return of six key players ahead of this weekends Six Nations clash with France in Dublin.

Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are all expected to be fit to play, whilst Rory Best looks likely to be available despite having to go through the consussion protocols this week.

“Sean O’Brien had an MRI scan last night which confirmed a hamstring strain on the minor end of the scale. He is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow,” said Irish team manager Mick Kearney.

“Rory Best suffered a concussion. He has been very well since the game and has been completing a gradual return to play protocol. If he completes this process without any symptoms he will be available for selection.


“Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging, and he came through very well. He is available for selection. Johnny Sexton has been cleared to train fully and he is available for selection.

“Finally, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are fully recovered and will train this week.”

“Like I said, Johnny has been training over the last couple of weeks with the rest of the squad. He’s been getting his reps in so that shouldn’t be a problem,” explained Murray.

The Irish scrum half added that Ireland must play a better game in all areas this weekend or they will not beat the French, who earned a hard-fought win against Scotland in their opening match. While the Irish players are pleased with the win, there is a recognition that significant improvement is required.

“Huge, massive step up from the weekend,” said Murray. “You know, you saw the standard set between Wales and England. That’s the standard set for the championship.

“The Italy game will not be good enough to beat France this weekend. We’ve got to, like I said, up it in a couple of areas and really take it on this week and train well and put in a bigger performance. While it was good enough to get the win over Italy it won’t be good enough to get the win this weekend.”