Ireland v France: Player to watch is Luke Marshall

Yahoo! Contributor Network

Although Paddy Jackson will undoubtedly be the centre of attention when Ireland welcome France to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, his Ulster team-mate Luke Marshall will be the man to watch.

The 21-year-old has been selected by Declan Kidney to start against les Bleus - just his second full Irish cap after making his debut in a 12-8 loss to Scotland in the last round of Six Nations fixtures.

Unlike Jackson, Marshall excelled at Murrayfield in an eye-catching display, which was a sole positive in an otherwise disappointing Irish performance rife with negatives.

The No12 gave an insight into his exciting potential at inside centre in the opening eight minutes when he made an incisive break, brining his side to within five metres of the Scotland line.

It wasn't once-off either. Marshall was bringing the fight to Scott Johnson's side on his first Six Nations start, combining with Jackson before another Ulster team-mate, Craig Gilroy, failed to gather an awkward pass into his chest.

Unlike England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi and France centre Wesley Fofana at Twickenham on the previous Saturday, Marshall showed that opposition lines can be broken by using the angles to maximum effect. It isn't just a case of having sheer, overwhelming power.

Although the Ballymena man knocked on to allow Scotland kick the ball into touch and seal the victory, it was a performance which showcased his strong carrying ability and left questions over Gordon D'Arcy's long-term Ireland future.

With the veteran Leinster centre still out injured, Marshall has been afforded the chance to replicate his attacking intent from Murrayfield and secure his first Ireland win at the Six Nations. He will be a future Irish star.

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