23/03/02.Ireland women’s coach Donal O’Leary has reshuffled his backline for tonight’s Six Nations clash with Spain at Thomond Park (7.00).
Rochelle Howell, the New Zealand-born Connacht halfback now playing her club rugby with women’s AIL leaders UL Bohs, comes in at outhalf with Worcester’s Nicky Milne switching to centre.
Ulster powerhouse Rachel Boyd moves back out to the left wing, where she won the first eight of her 12 Ireland caps, with young UL Bohs flyer Lynn Cantwell, who wore the No 11 jersey in the 0-13 defeat against Scotland, being dropped from the match 22. Shannon teenager Rachel Tucker, daughter of 1980 Lion Colm, comes onto the bench.
Up front, Shannon frontrower Jean Lonergan comes in at loosehead for veteran Leinster captain Maura Coulter, who was carried off with a knee injury in the Scottish game, but hopes to be able to take her place on the bench. If not, Lonergan’s clubmate Olivia Brown will be brought onto the
Ireland. SJ Belton (UL Bohs/Munster); S Fleming (Cooke/Ulster, capt), P
Kelly (UL Bohs, Munster), N Milne (Worcester/Connacht), R Boyd (Cooke/Ulster); R Howell (UL Bohs/Connacht), K Eagleson (Cooke/Ulster); J Lonergan (Shannon/Munster), E Collins (UL Bohs/Munster), E Coen (Highfield/Munster), A-M McAllister (Blackrock/Leinster), M Quirke (UL Bohs/Munster), R Reid (Cooke/Ulster), M O’Loughlin (UL Bohs/Connacht), F
Steed (Shannon/Munster). Replacements: J Sparkes (Blackrock/Ulster), F Neary (Waterloo/Ulster), R Tucker (Shannon/Munster); M Coulter (Blackrock/Leinster), M Dolo (Old Belvedere/Leinster), R Foley (Shannon/Munster), E Wessell (Richmond/Ulster).