Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named six Lions in his starting line up for Saturday night’s clash with France at Croke Park.
2005 Lions skipper Brian O’Driscoll captains the Irish from outside centre with fellow double Lions tourist Ronan O’Gara named at outside-half.
John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell also start the Six Nations opener in Dublin having been Lions four years ago, while David Wallace, a late Lions replacement in 2001, is also included.
A further three Lions are named among the replacements, with Gordon D’Arcy returning to the international set up alongside Malcolm O’Kelly and Geordan Murphy.
Robert Kearney has been rewarded for his impressive form for Leinster with a start in the No15 shirt, with Murphy on the bench, Keith Earls injured and Girvan Dempsey missing out on the matchday 22.
Ulster’s Paddy Wallace partners O’Driscoll in the centre as Luke Fitzgerald moves out to the wing.
Kidney has named the same pack that started the 17-3 win over Argentina in their last international outing with Jerry Flannery chosen ahead of Rory Best at hooker and Jamie Heaslip and Stephen Ferris joining Wallace in the back row.
Denis Leamy has recovered from shoulder surgery and a knee problem to take a place on the bench as he looks to force his way back into Lions reckoning. There is also a possibility of an Irish debut for Ulster prop Tom Court who provides front row cover for the first time.
Robert Kearney (UCD – Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD – Leinster, captain), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena – Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College – Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution – Munster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin – Munster); Marcus Horan (Shannon – Munster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon – Munster), John Hayes (Bruff- Munster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution – Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster – Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon – Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen – Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas – Leinster)
Replacements: Rory Best (Banbridge – Ulster), Tom Court (Malone – Ulster), Malcolm O’Kelly (St. Mary’s College – Leinster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution – Munster), Peter Stringer (Shannon – Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne – Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester)