Nichola Fryday will captain Ireland in the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations after being confirmed as the new skipper by head coach Greg McWilliams.
An ever-present in the Ireland team since making her Test debut in November 2016 against Canada, the 26-year-old second row has made 22 appearances to date.
She follows in the footsteps of previous captain Ciara Griffin, who skippered Ireland from January 2018 until her retirement in November 2021.
Ireland begin their Championship campaign against Wales at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 4.45pm) and Fryday said she is excited for the journey ahead.
“It is the greatest honour in anyone’s sporting career to play for your country, so for me to be given the opportunity to captain Ireland is an incredible honour and I’m grateful for the chance to lead this team,” the Offaly native said.
“It is a special moment for me and my family, who have been my supporting rock throughout my career. It is a privilege to lead this group of players as we embark on a new journey with Greg and the coaching team, and we are all incredibly excited to get to work this Saturday against Wales.
“It is a fresh start for the team and we’re really looking forward to getting out in front of our family, friends and supporters at the RDS this weekend, implementing the hard work we’ve done over the last number of weeks and showcasing ourselves on the Test stage in green.”
Fryday demonstrated her importance to Ireland’s engine room in the November Test win over USA at the RDS, winning the the Player of the Match award for her display.
And McWilliams, who is going into his first Championship as Ireland head coach, believes Fryday – who plays her club rugby with Exeter Chiefs – will thrive in the captaincy role.
McWilliams said: “Nichola epitomises everything about our environment – she is a brilliant person, a vocal voice within the group and a player who gives her all for the green jersey.
“She was a standout candidate for the captaincy and I was delighted to appoint her to the role.
“It was a special occasion on Sunday as we delivered the news to Nichola and the group, and to have her parents and family join the meeting via Zoom made it extra special.
“We are working hard every day to become better as a team and individuals and I’m confident we are moving in the right direction ahead of the Championship.”
Following their Championship opener against Wales, Ireland will travel to France in Round 2. They will then face Italy at home and England away before finishing their campaign against Scotland in Belfast.