Tuesday 6 December 2016

First start for McLaughlin as Tierney shuffles his pack

Published 18/03/2016 | 02:30

Ireland women's coach Tom Tierney (SPORTSFILE)
Ireland women's coach Tom Tierney (SPORTSFILE)

Staying true to his mantra of blooding new players and trying out new combinations ahead of next year's World Cup, Tom Tierney has again shuffled his pack for Sunday's visit of Scotland.

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The Six Nations title may be out of reach for the defending champions but there's no doubting the fact that in terms of expanding their squad, the tournament has been a success.

Scotland arrive in Dublin without a win and Tierney's side will be desperate to ensure that they pick up their third victory of the campaign at their new Donnybrook home.

Having made her debut last week in the win over Italy, Liz Burke retains her place on the wing while Claire McLaughlin is handed her first start in the centre alongside Sene Naoupu.

Nora Stapleton and Larissa Muldoon form an experienced half-back partnership, with 71 caps between them.

Ruth O'Reilly returns to the starting line-up while Ciara Cooney switches to the second-row to allow last week's try-scorer Paula Fitzpatrick to start

Fiona Hayes and Orla Fitzsimons are in line for their first Six Nations appearances of the season from the bench.

"Building strength in depth has been a key focus for us," Tierney said. "Since we began the season in November, there have been 14 new caps and that is very important for women's rugby in Ireland.

"Overall we're pleased with how the Six Nations has progressed so far. While the results away to England and France were disappointing, we have won our two home games.

"We again have some new combinations, which I'm sure will be exciting and will hopefully allow us to finish the campaign on a high."

Ireland Women (v Scotland) - N Briggs (capt); L Burke, C McLaughlin, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R O'Reilly, Z Grattage, A Egan; E Anthony, C Cooney; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Reps: C Moloney, F Hayes, F Reidy, O Fitzsimons, S Spence, M Healy, A Donnelly, K Flood.

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