Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs has named the team, sponsored by Aon, to take on their Italian counterparts in their first home game of the 2018 Women’s Six Nations at Donnybrook on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
There are three changes to the Ireland side that lost 24-0 away to France in the opening round, with Katie Fitzhenry, Paula Fitzpatrick and Nichola Fryday all coming into the starting XV, replacing the benched Claire McLaughlin and Orla Fitzsimons and the injured Ciara Cooney.
Fitzhenry, who played for the Ireland Women’s Seven team in Sydney recently, comes into the side to partner Sene Naoupu in the centre. The rest of the back-line is unchanged with Megan Williams and Ailsa Hughes set for their first home starts.
Former captain Fitzpatrick, who is back to full fitness, moves from the replacements to start in the second row where Tullamore clubwoman Fryday makes her second start and her first in the Six Nations. Cliodhna Moloney is flanked by Lindsay Peat and Fiona Reidy in the front row for the second game in a row, while captain Ciara Griffin is joined again by Anna Caplice and Claire Molloy in the back row.
Williams and reserve prop Laura Feely won their first caps in Toulouse, and there could be two more debuts at Donnybrook this weekend as the uncapped Edel McMahon, who played for the Barbarians in November, and Michelle Claffey, the Blackrock captain, have been included on a bench which also features World Cup scrum half Nicole Cronin, who is poised for her Six Nations bow.
Speaking ahead of the clash with Italy, head coach Griggs said: “It was a very tough encounter in France last Saturday. It’s always hard to go to their back yard and get a result and while we were disappointed in some aspects of our execution, there was plenty to learn from and build on for this week.
“There were a number of new combinations and while that will take time to bed in, we are focused on improving our performance for the first of three home games in Donnybrook.”
Tickets for the Ireland Women’s home games in Donnybrook are available now via www.ticketmaster.ie. The IRFU is offering a bus subsidy of up to 400 euro per club for private transport hire. For more information on the bus subsidy for the 2018 Women’s Six Nations, contact email@example.com before purchasing tickets.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2018 Women’s Six Nations Championship, Donnybrook, Sunday, February 11, kick-off 1pm):
15. Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
14. Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
13. Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
11. Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
10. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
2. Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster)
3. Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
4. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
5. Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht)
6. Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol)
8. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
16. Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)
17. Laura Feely (Galweigians/Connacht)
18. Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht)
19. Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
20. Edel McMahon (Galwegians/Connacht) *
21. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
22. Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster) *
23. Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster)
* Denotes uncapped player at this level
IRELAND WOMEN – 2018 SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS/FIXTURES:
France Women 24 Ireland Women 0, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, Saturday, February 3
Ireland Women v Italy Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, February 11, 1pm – Buy Match Tickets
Ireland Women v Wales Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, February 25, 3pm – Buy Match Tickets
Ireland Women v Scotland Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, March 11, 1pm – Buy Match Tickets
England Women v Ireland Women, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, Friday, March 16, 5.30pm – Buy Match Tickets