Irish prop Healy set for 100th cap in French Six Nations clash
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Dublin (AFP) –
Cian Healy will win his 100th cap for Ireland when they seek a bonus-point win over France on Saturday which would assure them of the Six Nations title.
The 33-year-old prop will become the sixth Irishman to reach the landmark, a remarkable achievement for Healy after suffering some serious injuries over the years since making his Test debut in 2009.
"Well the key word for Cian is resilience," said head coach Andy Farrell after the team was unveiled on Wednesday.
"Like any top player I don't think they ever get comfortable that selection is going to happen.
"What has driven Cian to 100 caps is his fight to keep on improving, he has understood himself and his body.
"It is an absolute privilege to be involved on this occasion with Cian, I am unbelievably fortunate to be in charge of him for his 100th."
Farrell has made one enforced change to the starting line-up that thrashed Italy 50-17 last Saturday, bringing in centre Robbie Henshaw for the injured Garry Ringrose.
Centre Chris Farrell -- no relation to Andy -- fills Henshaw's place on the bench whilst New Zealand-born scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park has passed a fitness test on a leg injury.
The Irish pulled off a thrilling 15-13 win over France in Paris on their previous visit in the Six Nations in 2018.
However, they require four tries this time round to ensure Farrell and captain Johnny Sexton win the title in their first season in their respective roles.
"We could score four tries but they are so dangerous they could score six," said Farrell.
"We will stick to our plan and hopefully put enough pressure on them to score.
"It is a tough old task knowing the French and what they are capable of.
"They are a formidable side especially at home."
Farrell -- who stepped up from being Joe Schmidt's assistant to the head coach job when the Kiwi stepped down after last year's World Cup -- said discipline would be key.
"Certainly discipline is required," said the 45-year-old Englishman.
"You cannot win any game if you don't have that.
"You need momentum in matches and a lack of discipline will put you on the back foot."
Farrell says the spirit in the camp during the week has been special in part due to the popular Healy's landmark and also in wanting to lift the spirits of the country.
Ireland last week became the first EU country to go back into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Farrell says this atmosphere within the group and a determination to give the Irish people something to smile about has engendered confidence.
"The togetherness, the thought process among the group that we are not just doing this for the individual but the group and for the country at this time gives me confidence," said Farrell.
"And of course doing it for a special lad for his 100th cap."
Jacob Stockdale; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Hugo Keenan; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Will Connors, Caelan Doris; James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne; Andrew Porter, Rob Herring, Cian Healy
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Peter O'Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Chris Farrell
Coach: Andy Farrell (ENG)
© 2020 AFP