Briggs boost for Ireland's World Cup plans
Ireland captain Niamh Briggs has been included in a 48-strong training squad that will begin preparations for the World Cup in August.
Briggs missed the Six Nations with a hamstring injury but is expected to recover in time to lead Ireland in the tournament which will be held in Dublin and Belfast.
The full-back is one four players in line to play at their second World Cup with Nora Stapleton, Marie-Louise Reilly and Claire Molloy also included.
Tom Tierney is afforded the luxury of being able to call on another nine players who featured at the last World Cup, while the head coach has also named nine uncapped players in the extended squad.
Connacht's Laura Feely is the only uncapped forward included, while the likes of Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall are drafted in from the Sevens programme.
There is again a significant crossover between the two codes with six of the uncapped players having already played for Ireland in Sevens.
Railway Union's teenage out-half Eve Higgins, who will sit her Leaving Cert in June, also gets a chance to impress in the coming weeks.
"The aim now is to make sure the players that have been selected on this panel are all up to speed on how we want to play our game in August, as well as being physically fit for what will be a challenging and demanding tournament," Tierney said.
Ireland also confirmed that they will play two warm-up games against Japan as well as travelling to Spain for a training camp before the final squad is announced in July.
Ireland training squad:
Forwards: E Anthony, A Baxter, A Caplice, C Cooney, J Deacon, A Egan, L Feely*, J Finlay, P Fitzpatrick, O Fitzsimons, N Fryday, C Griffin, L Lyons, C Molloy, C Moloney, H O'Brien, C O'Connor, R O'Reilly, L Peat, M-L Reilly, S Spence, I Van Staden.
Backs: N Briggs, N Caughey, E Considine, M Coyne, N Cronin*, A Doyle, K Fitzhenry, K Flood, S Flood*, N Fowley, L Galvin*, M Healy, E Higgins*, A Hughes, N Kavanagh, C McLaughlin, A Miller, L Muldoon, L Mulhall*, J Murphy, A-L Murphy-Crowe*, S Naoupu, D Nic a Bhaird*, N Stapleton, H Tyrrell, M Williams*.
(*Denotes uncapped at this level)