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Leinster Women To Field Ten New Caps Against Ulster

Leinster Women To Field Ten New Caps Against Ulster

A new-look Leinster Women’s squad will be looking to blow off the cobwebs and make a winning start to the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship when they entertain Ulster at Blackrock College RFC on Friday night (kick-off 7pm).

Irish Rugby TV: Leinster v Ulster Women’s Interpros Preview

Leinster, last season’s runners-up, head into the new campaign without the experience of Ireland forwards Sophie Spence and Orla Fitzsimons, who have both retired, and former captain Paula Fitzpatrick who has taken time out of the game to run an Arctic marathon.

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It is not all bad news as the Blues have managed to recruit Ulster out-half Nikki Caughey and Munster scrum half Ellen Murphy to ramp up their options at half-back. Connacht’s Katie O’Dwyer has also made the move to the eastern province and New Zealander Nicole Purdom is an interesting addition to the back row ranks.

Jeamie Deacon and Hannah O’Connor have both made the switch from the centre to the back row with O’Connor offering the extra skill of goal-kicking. The change in the order of the Women’s season means the Interpros take place before the start of the All-Ireland League, giving new Leinster boss Ben Armstrong and his assistants Tom McKeown and Phil de Barra the time to properly prepare.

There has been a three-day camp at The King’s Hospital where the coaches and players have had time to go into finer detail on how they want to play and who they have to play. “At the moment, the girls are professional with their attitude, they are professional with their performance,” said head coach Armstrong.

“I can’t fault the support we’ve had from Leinster. We were out in King’s Hospital. We have had our video work. We have had the time needed to come together as a group and the girls lapped it up.”

It is a journey into the unknown even though there is experience there in the Ireland presence of Lindsay Peat, Aoife McDermott and Ciara Cooney as well as backs Megan Williams and Sene Naoupu, the province’s newly-announced captain.

“Maybe, there is a changing of the guard,” added Armstrong. “But, a lot of the girls coming through have been playing longer than some of the girls that have left. The experience is gone. The rugby knowledge is there and the enthusiasm is top notch. They are like sponges. They just want to know more and more.

“It is a performance environment. The next step is green for them and we spoke about that in the first meeting with them about what we want to achieve and what it can mean for them. The more successful we are in the Interpros, the more players will be putting their hands up for Ireland. That’s the beauty of this.”

LEINSTER WOMEN (v Ulster Women): Lauren Farrell McCabe (Suttonians) *; Gemma Matthews (Old Belvedere) *, Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere) (capt), Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere); Nikki Caughey (Railway Union) *, Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere) *; Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Emma Hooban (St. Mary’s) *, Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union) *, Aoife McDermott (Railway Union), Meg Kendal (Railway Union), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock), Juliet Short (Railway Union), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock) *.

Replacements: Ann-Marie Rooney (Blackrock), Christy Haney (St. Mary’s), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere) *, Mairead Holohan (Blackrock), Nicole Purdom (Suttonians) *, Niamh Griffin (Blackrock), Nicole Carroll (Suttonians), Ray Lawless (Blackrock) *.

* Denotes uncapped player


Friday, August 31 –

LEINSTER WOMEN v ULSTER WOMEN, Stradbrook, Blackrock College RFC, 7pm

Sunday, September 9 –

CONNACHT WOMEN v LEINSTER WOMEN, the Sportsground, Galway, 3pm

Saturday, September 15 –

LEINSTER WOMEN v MUNSTER WOMEN, Energia Park, Donnybrook, 7.30pm