Six Nations: Ireland leave out O' Brien and shuffle pack for France

Flanker O' Brien was a surprise omission as Joe Schmidt named his team to take on Les Bleus at the Aviva Stadium. David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland have left flanker Sean O' Brien out of their Six Nations squad to face France on Sunday.

The British & Irish Lions forward has been replaced by Josh Van Der Flier at openside in one of seven changes to the team which beat Italy 26-16 two weeks ago.

Garry Ringrose starts at outside centre in the only change among the backs, while the experienced Cian Healy and captain Rory Best have been restored to the front row.

Iain Henderson and James Ryan are preferred in the second row and CJ Stander starts at No. 8.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed the decision to leave out O' Brien was based on his form after a patchy display against Italy.

The 32-year-old, who plays for Leinster, has struggled with injuries but has been a regular starter for Ireland and began the games against Scotland and Italy in February.

He has won 55 caps and started all three Tests for the British & Irish Lions on the tour to New Zealand in 2017.

Ringrose missed the victories over Scotland and Italy but has recovered from a hamstring injury to partner Bundee Aki in midfield.

Stander meanwhile suffered a broken cheekbone on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, but has made it back sooner than expected.

Henderson has also recovered from injury while Best and Ryan were rested for the Italy trip.

Among the replacements Niall Scannell is the foil for Best and Jack Carty, who made his test debut against Italy is the second choice at fly-half.

Ireland Starting XV

15. Rob Kearney, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best (captain), 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O'Mahony, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. CJ Stander


16. Niall Scannell, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. John Ryan, 19. Ultan Dillane, 20. Jack Conan, 21. John Cooney, 22. Jack Carty, 23. Jordan Larmour.