Nichola Fryday will lead Ireland’s 32-player squad for the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations, with eight uncapped players included by head coach Greg McWilliams.
Fryday is the most experienced member of the squad that will kick off their Championship away against Wales on Saturday 25 March and has retained the captaincy after leading Ireland to fourth in 2022.
The Exeter Chiefs second row is part of an experienced core of forwards that also includes Linda Djougang, Neve Jones and Sam Monaghan who all earned a spot in the 2022 Team of the Championship.
But experience is also mixed with youth up front, with uncapped quartet Niamh O’Dowd, Sadhbh McGrath, Fiona Tuite and Molly Boyne all earning maiden call-ups after impressing in the Celtic Challenge.
“We are very excited about the group of players who will represent Ireland in the upcoming Championship and certainly the Celtic Challenge preparation has been vital for our development,” said McWilliams.
“We have identified players who are ready for international rugby, and we have had the opportunity to work with those players over the last five weeks, with that contact time incredibly valuable as we build the depth and strength of the group.
“There is an exciting blend of youth and experience, and these players are fit for Test rugby.
“We will work exceptionally hard over the coming weeks in preparation for the opening weekend and while we are aware of the challenges ahead of us, we are excited to get to task.”
Clara Nielson and Kathryn Buggy will also be hoping for their first caps in the forwards, with Emma Swords and Ella Roberts the only uncapped backs.
They will join a new-look back line, that is without Eve Higgins and Beibhinn Parsons.
However, centre Enya Breen and full-back Lauren Delany provide plenty of experience, while there will be TikTok Women’s Six Nations debuts for Dannah O’Brien, Méah Deely, Aoife Dalton and Tash Behan following strong summers.
Breen is joined by Munster teammates Nicole Cronin and Aoife Doyle fresh from retaining their Interprovincial Championship title in January, while fellow Sale Shark player Vicky Irwin will hope to line up alongside Delany.
McWilliams has also named another 12 players as part of a wider training panel.
Ireland will hope to improve on their fourth-place finish in 2022 and will begin that task in Cardiff against Wales before welcoming France to Musgrave Park, Cork a week later on 1 April.
McWilliams’s side then travel to Parma to face Italy, with reigning Grand Slam champions England then making the trip to Cork before the Championship concludes in Edinburgh against Scotland on 29 April.
Ireland squad for the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations:
Forwards: Niamh O’Dowd, Sadhbh McGrath, Kathryn Buggy, Christy Haney, Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Clara Nielson, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Nichola Fryday (c), Sam Monaghan, Fiona Tuite, Hannah O’Connor, Dorothy Wall, Grace Moore, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Edel McMahon, Brittany Hogan, Molly Boyne
Backs: Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Emma Swords, Ailsa Hughes, Dannah O’Brien, Nicole Cronin, Enya Breen, Aoife Wafer, Aoife Dalton, Vicky Irwin, Méabh Deely, Aoife Doyle, Natasja Behan, Ella Roberts, Lauren Delany
Wider Training Panel: Mary Healy, Megan Collis, Andrea Stock, Emma Hooban, India Daley, Claire Bennett, Katie Whelan, Leah Tarpey, Kayla Waldron, Ella Durkan, Clare Gorman, Aoife Corey