Flanker Stephen Ferris has been named in Ireland coach Declan Kidney's starting lineup for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France after passing a late fitness test.
Ferris has been sidelined since January 23 with a knee injury he picked up in his Ulster’s Heineken Cup win against Bath and replaces Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin who made his debut in the 29-11 victory over Italy.
But Lions tearaway Ferris was passed fit by medics after successfully training with the team and will join David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip in the back row.
Ferris’ return comes as a major boost to Kidney’s men who travel to the Stade de France looking for their first RBS 6 Nations victory over Les Bleus in Paris in a decade.
McLaughlin drops out of the 22 altogether with Leinster teammate Sean O’Brien’s greater versatility giving him a bench berth alongside rising star Jonny Sexton and Ulster’s Paddy Wallace.
Winger Andrew Trimble, impressive in the victory over the Azzurri, is also left out of the squad after picking up a hamstring strain.
Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Earls, O'Gara, O'Leary, Healy, Flannery, Hayes, Cullen, O'Connell, Stephen Ferris, Wallace, Heaslip
Replacements :Best, Court, Ryan, O'Brien, Reddan, Sexton, Wallace