Six Nations 2021: Ireland captain Johnny Sexton out of France game as Billy Burns starts

2 weeks ago
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Johnny Sexton is helped off the field in Cardiff last Sunday
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Sunday, 14 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Sport website and app. Live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app.

Johnny Sexton will miss Ireland’s Six Nations game against France following the head knock he sustained against Wales as Billy Burns is handed a start.

A hamstring injury also rules out Conor Murray as Jamison Gibson-Park starts.

Iain Henderson is named captain as he replaces injured James Ryan and Rhys Ruddock comes in for Peter O’Mahony.

Munster back row O’Mahony is unavailable for Sunday’s home game at the Aviva Stadium after being handed a three-match ban following his first-half red card in the Cardiff defeat.

During the week, Sexton became embroiled in a dispute with French neurologist Dr Jean-Francois Chermann regarding his concussion record, before receiving an apology.

Sexton insisted he had never felt under pressure to rush back from a head injury and would not take “stupid” risks due to his family commitments.

Like Sexton, lock Ryan was forced off with a head injury at the Principality Stadium and has also not recovered in time to face Les Bleus.

Burns, who came on for regular skipper Sexton in Cardiff, will be making his first Six Nations start after his chastening conclusion to last weekend’s game as he kicked the ball dead when aiming for touch to end Ireland’s hopes of a dramatic last-gasp victory.

Scrum-half Murray’s absence means Ireland will have a different half-back combination as Leinster’s Gibson-Park partners Burns.

Gibson-Park’s promotion means that Murray’s Munster club-mate Craig Casey is named on the bench.

Henderson will be captaining his country for the first time in the absence of both Sexton and Ryan on his first start since sustaining a knee injury during the Autumn Nations Cup.

Leinster player Ruddock has not featured for his country since coming off the bench in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand and was not involved in any of Farrell’s squads last year.

Ireland: Keenan; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Burns, Gibson-Park; Healy, Herring, Porter; Beirne, Henderson (capt); Ruddock, Van der Flier, Stander.

Replacements: Kelleher, E Byrne, Furlong,Dillane, Connors, Casey, R Byrne, Larmour.

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BBC Sport – Rugby Union

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