Adam Griggs says his Ireland squad has the perfect blend of youth and experience after naming 28 players for next week’s Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament.
Griggs has picked three uncapped players in sevens captain Lucy Mulhall, Sam Monaghan and Mary Healy, while veteran Ciara Griffin will captain Ireland in the four-team round-robin tournament.
Back-rower Edel McMahon returns to the squad after missing the Women’s Six Nations through injury.
Ireland will open their campaign against Spain on Monday before going head-to-head with Women’s Six Nations rivals Italy and Scotland, with all matches at Italy’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
The team that finishes top of the group will qualify automatically for next year’s World Cup, while the runner-up moves to the Repechage Tournament.
Head coach Griggs said: “This was a difficult selection process with the quality we have in the squad, however we have selected players who have performed consistently well throughout our training camps in the HPC and earned this opportunity.
“It’s an exciting group including a good mix of experienced players who have been involved in big Test matches and understand the detail, preparation and intensity required to win at this level. We are looking forward to heading to Parma and fine-tuning our game for Spain first and foremost.
“While we can only focus on one game at a time, we won’t shy away from the end goal of this being a winner-takes-all tournament for participation at Rugby World Cup 2021. The players and staff are all highly motivated and focused on making sure we are successful as a group.”
Ireland Squad (Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier):
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster)(6 caps)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster)(18)
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)(13)
Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)(14)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)(3)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)(3)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster)(3)
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)(12)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster)*
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)(2)
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(41)
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/Connacht)(11)
Mary Healy (Naas RFC/Leinster)*
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(12)
Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht)(19)
Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht)(18)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/Munster)(Captain)(36)
Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster)(4)
Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster)(3)
Leah Lyons (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)(26)
Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/ Leinster)(16)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(9)
Claire Molloy (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(71)
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(26)
Sam Monaghan (Wasps/IQ Rugby)*
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster)(3)
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)(34)
Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster)(7)
*Denotes uncapped at this level
Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier Schedule:
All games to be played at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Monday, 13th September:
Spain v Ireland (6pm local time/5pm Irish time)
Sunday, 19th September:
Italy v Ireland (3pm local time/2pm Irish time)
Saturday, 25th September:
Ireland v Scotland (6pm local time/5pm Irish time).