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Women's Six Nations: Ireland without several key players for England match

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Published in Rugby
Tuesday, 19 April 2022 09:08

Ireland will be without many of their usual matchday squad for Sunday's Women's Six Nations match with England.

Seven players will be unavailable because as they are part of the sevens programme for the upcoming World Rugby Sevens series in Canada.

In a further blow, Ireland must plan without second row Sam Monaghan and back row Aoife Wafer because of injury.

Ireland lost their opening two games of the championship to Wales and France, before beating Italy 29-8 in Dublin.

Of the team that started against the Italians, Ireland's centre partnership and back-three combination will all be returning to sevens duty, with Beibhinn Parsons, Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood an Eve Higgins all taking part in the tournament in Langford.

As well as that, head coach Greg McWilliams will also be without back row Brittany Hogan, who has featured in all three games so far in the championship, as well as second row Anna McGann.

Wasps second row Monaghan had emerged as Ireland's standout player in the opening rounds of the championship, and McWilliams says the injuries come as a real blow.

"Sam is a massive loss - she is a different person from the one that arrived in February - she is world class," said Ireland coach McWilliams.

"She has grown so much into her role and loves the fact that she has more responsibility. She has improved game-on-game."

A group of 33 players have trained in Dublin in preparation for the encounter with the defending champions at Welford Road, with McWilliams adding seven players to his panel for the remainder of the 2022 Championship.

Laura Feely, Laura Sheehan, Mary Healy, Shannon Touhy, Sene Naoupu and the uncapped Leinster pair of Niamh Byrne and Alice O'Dowd have been called up, with the final two rounds of the Six Nations providing McWilliams and his coaching staff with the opportunity to further expose players to Test rugby and build squad depth.

"There are a number of players who have had to be patient during the first three rounds of the Six Nations and they now have an exciting opportunity to stake a claim. I just hope they can go out and express themselves," said McWilliams.

"England are the best team in the world by some distance, ahead of France and ahead of the southern hemisphere nations so it will be a massive challenge but the players see a clear plan of what we are trying to do.

"In the bigger picture you want to be known for the rugby you play, not the results you get.

"We don't have a huge amount of preparation time and we're playing against professionals but we're going out there believing in what we're going to do."

England top the Six Nations table with three wins and a maximum of 15 points from their first three matches, scoring 189 points in the process and conceding just 10.

"We have been working around scrum set-ups and we hope to be in a position to compete in the set-pieces which are pivotal to the game," added McWilliams.

"We have to be patient defensively too and hope we can stay in the game and have a puncher's chance."

McWilliams also revealed that the squad will embark on a two-Test summer tour for the first time in August, with the opponents yet to be revealed.

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