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Beibhinn Parsons starts as Greg McWilliams rings the changes for Italy

The Ireland team to face Italy has been named, with Greg McWilliams making four changes to the side that started both the opening rounds of the TikTok Six Nations.



The Ireland team to face Italy has been named, with Greg McWilliams making four changes to the side that started both the opening rounds of the TikTok Six Nations.

While McWilliams kept the exact same line up for the first two matches, he has rung the changes for his side's third match of the championship against Italy. The match will be first time that the Irish women have played a Six Nations game in Musgrave Park.

Beibhinn Parsons, Kathryn Dane, Christy Haney and Hannah O'Connor are all promoted to starting positions, while 19-year-old back row Aoife Wafer is in line for her Ireland debut off the bench.

With Parsons named to start on the left wing, Lucy Mulhall switches to full-back in place of the most experienced player in the previous two weeks Eimear Considine, who is dropped from the matchday squad entirely.

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe continues on the right wing. Eve Higgins and Stacey Flood are retained in midfield, with Dane coming into at scrum-half to partner Nicole Cronin in the half-backs.

Having made her debut off the bench against France, Haney is rewarded for an impactful performance with a first start in the front row alongside Linda Djougang and Neve Jones.

Captain Nichola Fryday and Sam Monaghan continue their second row partnership, with O'Connor drafted in at number eight. Dorothy Wall is named to start at blindside and Edel McMahon at openside.

Wafer joins Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Katie O'Dwyer and Brittany Hogan as the forward reinforcements for Sunday, with Aoibheann Reilly, Enya Breen and Aoife Doyle completing the 23.

2 April 2022; Eve Higgins of Ireland during the TikTok Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse, France. Photo by Manuel Blondeau/Sportsfile

Speaking ahead of the weekend, McWilliams explained that he has laid out na challenge for his players this week.

"We have challenged the players to take their opportunities and we're trying to increase competition across the board, which is a really healthy thing to have within your squad," McWilliams said.

"The players coming into the team this week have worked hard and earned their chance, so we're looking forward to seeing how they react and perform."

A product of Enniscorthy RFC, Wafer is in line for her international debut having impressed as captain of Leinster U18s last season and during the Energia All-Ireland League campaign with Blackrock College.

The teenager also travelled to Dubai with the Ireland Women's Development Sevens squad last December, catching the eye of McWilliams during that trip.

McWilliams is excited about the potential debut for the forward.

"We're really excited about Aoife's potential," McWilliams said. "She has just come through an injury so we've had to manage her but we feel now is the right opportunity for her to hopefully come off the bench and show people what she can do.

"She's definitely a star of the future, and her younger sister Orla is in Edinburgh with the Ireland U18s so it promises to be a special weekend for the Wafer family."

Ireland starting line-up:

15. Lucy Mulhall14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe13. Eve Higgins12. Stacey Flood11. Beibhinn Parsons10. Nicole Cronin9. Kathryn Dane1. Linda Djougang2. Neve Jones3. Christy Haney 4. Nichola Fryday5. Sam Monaghan6. Dorothy Wall7. Edel McMahon
8. Hannah O'Connor

Replacements:

16. Emma Hooban17. Chloe Pearse18. Katie O'Dwyer19. Brittany Hogan20. Aoife Wafer21. Aoibheann Reilly22. Enya Breen23. Aoife Doyle

The Women's Six Nations on OTB Sports, in association with Vodafone. Proudly supporting the Irish women’s rugby team. We all belong to the Team Of Us

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AimeeLeigh  Murphy-Crowe Aoibheann Reilly Beibhinn Parsons Brittany Hogan Dorothy Wall Edel Mcmahon Eimear Considine Eve Higgins Greg McWilliams Ireland Katie O'Dwyer Linda Djougang Lucy Mulhall Neve Jones Nichola Fryday Nicole Cronin Sam Monaghan Six Nations Stacey Flood TikTok Six Nations Wales