Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham has recalled full-back Kayleigh Powell to the starting XV in a strong lineup for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations opener against Ireland on Saturday.
Powell has not featured for her country since the 2021 Championship due to a series of injuries but was recently awarded a retainer contract.
The Bristol Bears full-back is joined by club teammate Jasmine Joyce and Sale Sharks winger Lisa Neumann in the back three.
Elsewhere in the backline, Kerin Lake and Hannah Jones link up in the centres, while Keira Bevan and Elinor Snowsill form the half-back pairing.
In the forwards, Gwenllian Pyrs, Carys Phillips and Cerys Hale start in the front row, while Gwen Crabb remains in the second row after the USA Falcons clash and is joined by Natalia John.
The back row trio is the same as the one that started against USA Falcons, Alisha Butchers and Alex Callender join captain Siwan Lillicrap.
On the replacements bench, Sisilia Tuipulotu is set to make her debut, while Sioned Harries returns to the Welsh squad for the first time since November 2019 when she played in Wales’ 15-13 win over Ireland.
Kelsey Jones also returns to the matchday 23 having missed the Autumn internationals.
Ahead of the Championship opener against Ireland, Cunningham said: “We feel we have a good balance in the side with plenty of experience alongside some exciting young players too.
“It’s good to have players like Kayleigh, Kelsey and Sioned back in the squad at the start of this tournament.
“Sisilia has settled in well to the training environment after taking up a retainer contract and she fully deserves to make the next step to international rugby.
“The more exposure we can give her at this level, the more comfortable she will be.
“The game against USA two weeks ago gave everyone a chance to stake their claim so we are certainly rewarding performance but also very conscious that we have three Test matches in three weekends.
“There is now healthy competition throughout the squad which is ideal.“We want to build on the good progress we saw in the autumn. We want to play a high tempo game and have challenged the players to perform at high intensity.”
WALES TEAM TO FACE IRELAND
15 Kayleigh Powell, 14 Lisa Neumann, 13 Hannah Jones, 12 Kerin Lake, 11 Jasmine Joyce, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan; 1 Gwenllian Pyrs, 2 Carys Phillips, 3 Cerys Hale, 4 Natalia John, 5 Gwen Crabb, 6 Alisha Butchers, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Siwan Lillicrap (Captain)
16 Kelsey Jones, 17 Cara Hope, 18 Donna Rose, 19 Sioned Harries, 20 Bethan Lewis, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Robyn Wilkins, 23 Sisilia Tuipulotu