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Briggs honoured to skipper Irish team

Waterford native Niamh Briggs will captain the Ireland Women's team for the first time tonight when they face Italy in the opening Women's Six Nations encounter at Stadio Mario Lodigiani in Florence (6.0 Irish time).

The 30-year-old succeeded the retired Fiona Coghlan as captain of the team and has spoken of her pride at being given the opportunity.

A Garda based in Limerick, Briggs plays her club rugby with UL Bohemians and was last year named on the IRB Women's Team of the Year.

Capped 45 times for her country, she made her debut against Italy back in 2008.

The full-back has a tough task on her hands to manage expectations after a year that saw victories over New Zealand in the World Cup and leaders like Coughlan and Lynn Cantwell retired from the international scene, while coach Philip Doyle is no longer in charge.

With 12 uncapped players and a new director of rugby in Australian Anthony Eddy and coach in former Ireland scrum-half Tom Tierney, it could be a difficult championship for the Irish.

They host France next week at Ashbourne and face England at the same venue on February 27.

They then travel to take on Wales and Scotland in the final two games.

Ireland last won the Women's Six Nations in 2013, while they finished third in last year's renewal.

England were second with winners France claiming the grand slam; however, having both of these teams at home this season is a huge advantage.

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