Irish fans have reacted with dismay after national team coach Declan Kidney axed Ronan O’Gara for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with France.
Kidney has left the Munster hero out of his extended 32 man squad, effectively ending his international career after 128 appearances.
The news was delivered to O’Gara on Sunday, just fours days before his 36th birthday.
It’s the first time in a 13-year spell with Ireland that a fit O’Gara won’t feature in the starting team or on the bench for his country.
Pundits and fans have been shocked by the decision with Kidney opting to take a chance on Jonathon Sexton’s fitness as he looks to hang onto his job.
Ulster youngster Paddy Jackson and Leinster’s Ian Madigan are the other two out-halves in the extended Irish squad for the game against a French side currently bottom of the Six Nations table.
O’Gara, Ireland’s most capped player, has been short of form in the championship this season and was heavily criticised after the defeats to England and Scotland.
But fans believe Kidney has made a mistake with 75 per cent backing O’Gara and only 25 per cent supporting the coach in an online poll at www.TheScore.ie
Connacht forward Mike McCarthy is also back after injury while Cian Healy returns from suspension.
Ulster winger Andrew Trimble is also named in the squad after he was dropped for the opening three games,
The Ireland squad to play France is: Best (Ulster), Cronin (Leinster), Diack (Ulster), Earls (Munster), Fitzgerald (Leinster), Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Gilroy (Ulster), Healy (Leinster), Heaslip (Leinster), Henderson (Ulster), Jackson (Ulster), D Kearney (Leinster), R Kearney (Leinster), Kilcoyne (Munster), Madigan (Leinster), Marshall (Ulster), McCarthy (Connacht), McFadden (Leinster), Murray (Munster), O’Brien (Leinster), O’Callaghan (Munster), O’Donnell (Munster), O’Driscoll (Leinster), O’Mahony (Munster), O’Malley (Leinster), Reddan (Leinster), Ross (Leinster), Ryan (Munster), Sexton (Leinster), Trimble (Ulster), Toner (Leinster), Tuohy (Ulster).