'Smarting' England out for revenge, warns Doyle
IRELAND women's coach Philip Doyle has warned that England will be "smarting" from last year's defeat as they prepare for tonight's trip to Twickenham.
The women's game kicks off at the famous old stadium shortly after the men's clash concludes but after halting England's drive for an eighth consecutive Six Nations title last year, Doyle warned England will be out for revenge.
The Red Rose were without a number of front-line players for that game last year as they were on Sevens duty and while they have a full deck to pick from this time around, their chances of a Grand Slam have gone up in smoke as they lost out to France in round one.
Ireland, on the other hand, boast a 100pc record but Doyle has made two changes from the side that beat Wales last time out. Ashleigh Baxter comes onto the wing for Hannah Casey while Gillian Bourke replaces Stacey Lea Kennedy at hooker. There is one change on the bench, with Laura Guest replacing Paula Fitzpatrick.
"The team showed great character to secure the win against Wales but they are in for a huge test this weekend facing England at Twickenham," Doyle said.
"England will be smarting from last year's defeat and are a quality side who have shown their power and skill already in this Championship."
Ireland won last year's fixture 25-0 on their way to a historic Grand Slam.
England coach Gary Street has made seven changes for the clash.
"It has been a tough selection this week but I think the quality of our bench shows the depth we have in this squad," Street said.
"We've had good week training and the players are feeling really positive and excited about playing against Ireland at Twickenham."
Today's game represents the start of a couple of big weeks for the Irish women's team, who will also welcome Italy to Lansdowne Road on March 8 for a game that will kick off approximately 40 minutes after the men's match is completed.
England out-half Katy McLean knows Ireland are formidable opposition.
"It was massive beating Scotland. Looking back at the France game, we didn't perform well, so the most important thing was getting back on the horse," she said.
"Ireland have a really big pack. They have decent line speed and defence out wide. They have some big, hard runners and we know that if we give them the space they will carry well.
"If we're to have any chance of winning the Six Nations, this is a must-win game for us. We'll also have to see what happens with other results elsewhere.
"But we're taking it game by game. We're in a World Cup year so it's about building and making sure our performances go in the right direction.
"We don't want to repeat any of the errors we made against France and we know Ireland will a really tough side who don't want to lose their crown."
England – E Scarratt; K Merchant, A Reed, R Burford, K Wilson; K McLean, N Hunt; R Clark, E Croker, S Hemming; R Essex, J McGilchrist; H Gallagher, M Alphonsi, S Hunter. Reps: V Fleetwood, L Keates, S Acheson, T Taylor, M Packer, L Mason, C Large, L Thompson.
Ireland – N Briggs,; A Baxter, L Cantwell, J Murphy, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Mulddon; F Coghlan, G Bourke, A Egan; A Spence, ML Reilly; S Fleming, C Molloy, H O'Brien. Reps: SL Kennedy, F Hayes, KA Craddock, L Guest, A Davis, H Casey, G Davitt, J Shiels.
ENGLAND V IRELAND, LIVE, RTE2, 6.20