Friday 20 October 2017

Women's chance to lay down marker

Ireland's Sene Naoupu will be looking to make a major impact against England in tomorrow's Autumn International at UCD tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Sene Naoupu will be looking to make a major impact against England in tomorrow's Autumn International at UCD tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Tomorrow's first of three Autumn Internationals marks the beginning of the biggest season for women's rugby in this country.

The World Cup, which will be hosted in Ireland next August, provides an ideal platform to showcase the women's game and the Irish team will go into the tournament determined to make a serious impression.

England are the visitors to UCD tomorrow (2.0) and, having beaten this year's Six Nations champions France during the week, they will be confident of building on that.

Ireland coach Tom Tierney, who has had his squad in camp all week, must plan without several of his key players, but nevertheless there is just one new cap in the starting XV. Galwegians' Nicole Fowley will make her debut in the centre alongside the exciting Sene Naoupu. Former Dublin footballer and Irish basketballer Lindsay Peat makes her first start at loosehead, while influential No 8 Paula Fitzpatrick skippers the side in the absence of Niamh Briggs who misses out with a hamstring injury.

While Tierney knows the scale of a task that lies ahead against an experienced England side, the former Ireland scrum-half is urging his lesser experienced players to take their chance.

"We're without some of our more experienced players, but this gives other members of the squad the opportunity to get some much-needed experience."

Ireland play Canada in UCD next week before rounding off their first autumn series with a clash against New Zealand.

Ireland - M Coyne; N Kavanagh, N Fowley, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; M-L Reilly, O Fitzsimons; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick (capt). Reps: L Lyons, F Hayes, F Reidy, K Norris, C Pearse, M Healy, N Caughey, J Shiels.

England - D Waterman; K Wilson, C Allan, R Burford, F Pocock; E Scott, L Mason; R Clark, V Fleetwood, L Keates; T Taylor, H Millar-Mills; A Matthews, M Packer, S Hunter. Reps: A Cokayne, V Cornborough, S Bern, P Cleall, I Noel-Smith, N Hunt, K McLean, C Large.

Irish Independent

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