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Ireland winger Keith Earls says the side are hoping to give Craig Casey an international debut to remember on Sunday. 

In the enforced absence of the injured Conor Murray, 21-year old Casey has been named among the replacements for the visit of France to the Aviva in the Six Nations. Jamison Gibson-Park will start in the no.9 jersey.

Elsewhere, Billy Burns has an immediate chance to get over his personal disappointment from the defeat to Wales as he replaces Jonathan Sexton at out-half.

"Obviously it's tough losing the experience of Conor and Johnny," Earls said, "But the two lads stepping in - Billy's been flying it with Ulster. He's settled in well in the squad - he's popular in the squad.

"Everyone backs him, because he's an unbelievable talent.

"Of course he's disappointed with last week and that kick, but that's sport. It doesn't happen too often, especially with Billy.

"Jamison is cool as a breeze. He's played in massive games with Leinster before, he's a Super Rugby winner and there'd be no fear of him - no fear of both of them.

"We're all quite confident, we know how talented they are. And when they do click, it will be just as good as Conor and Johnny.

"Craig - obviously working close with him at Munster - he's a special talent, and he's one fella who I've no worries about.

"He's all over his stuff. He's the ultimate professional. He's an unbelievable talent as well.

"Obviously disappointed for Mur [Murray], but I'm delighted for Craig. A great opportunity.

"A massive test for him in his first cap - hopefully he comes on - and he'll add spark. He'll add his own unique style of play to us, which can only help us no doubt."

Earls says the current injury crisis isn't alien to the guts of the squad, having endured similar during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

And as he approaches his 90th cap, the Munster winger is confident good times are around the corner for Ireland again.

Earls feels Sunday's game with Les Bleus is the ideal opportunity for younger players within the squad to take on leadership roles in the absence of Sexton, Murray and O'Mahony.

"There's leaders all over the pitch in their own way," Earls said, "Some fellas will lead by action, some fellas will speak, so there's no lack of leadership.

"Hendie [Iain Henderson] coming in now to captain the squad, he's done an unbelievable job with Ulster, he's an intelligent captain, he's constantly thinking.

"We're not one bit worried, we knew it was going to be a massive test. It still is going to be a massive test.

"It's sink or swim now for a lot of fellas."

Even as he rounds the bend towards a century of caps, Earls says his enthusiasm has been refreshed by the style of play under Farrell.

"You see last week," the Moyross flier said, "I think people seen [sic] a different side to us, they've seen a massive difference even from last year and November.

"So the excitement for that alone is brilliant. But, yeah, 90 caps it goes like a blink of an eye.

"It's been a long time. Representing your country - no matter how many times you've been capped - I know it's a cliche, but it's unbelievably special

"I've 90, Craig will have his first and we plan to give him a special first cap hopefully."

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CRAIG CASEY Conor Murray France Ireland Jamison Gibson-park Jonathan Sexton Keith Earls

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