Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has decided to drop hooker Sean Cronin for the weekend visit of France after the struggles experienced by the Irish lineout in Rome. Cronin won his 68th cap in Rome in his first Six Nations start but has paid the price for an indifferent display. Ulsterman Rob Herring replaces Cronin in the provisional 37 man squad.

Cronin has predominantly been used as an impact replacement for Irish skipper Rory Best in his international career despite starring for Leinster both domestically and in Europe where he is joint top try scored in the Champions Cup this season. By dropping the hooker, Schmidt has made a statement to his players that if they aren’t performing to the standard expected someone else will be given to the chance to impress.

Rory Best, Cian Healy, Tadgh Beirne, James Ryan, CJ Stander and Garry Ringrose all return after missing out on the trip to Italy. To back up Johnny Sexton three other out halves have been named in the shape of Ross Byrne, Jack Carty and the returning Joey Carberry.

As expected Robbie Henshaw is the most notable absentee through injury after not recovering from a dead leg.

France have named an unchanged team to travel to Dublin.

The match day squad will be announced on Friday when Schmidt will face some tough calls in a must win game for Ireland as they attempt to force a winner takes all game against Wales on final weekend, which will of course depend also on how England get on.


Written by Stefan Hamilton