Preview: Wales Women v Barbarians

Siwan Lillicrap SB19
Siwan Lillicrap will lead out Wales Women on Saturday morning at Principality Stadium for an historic fixture against the Barbarians.

Siwan Lillicrap will lead out Wales Women on Saturday morning at Principality Stadium for an historic fixture against the Barbarians.

As part of a double header that includes Wayne Pivac’s men side facing off against their former boss Warren Gatland later in the afternoon, the stage is set for an epic weekend.

And it is something of a dream come true for Lillicrap who has captained Wales this autumn as they downed Scotland and a Crawshay’s invitational side.

“I’ve never given up and would always tell people not to give up on their dream. Keep striving for it,” she said.

“I got my first cap at 28, I’m 32 now with 31 caps and to be given the honour of leading my country is another absolute dream come true. To do it at Principality Stadium in a high-profile double-header is taking the dream to another level.

“It’s a real reward for us all to be part of this occasion and we want to show Wales and the rest of the world what we’re all about. What better way to show that than at Principality Stadium against a tough Barbarians side. We hope the crowd will come in early to get behind what we’re trying to do and enjoy a performance that will encourage them to come and watch us again.”

The side selected shows two changes from their 17-3 win over Women’s Six Nations rivals Scotland. Paige Randall comes onto the wing in place of Cardiff Blues team-mate Rebekah O’Loughlin while Keira Bevan is preferred to fellow Osprey Niamh Terry at No.9.

There are starting places for Randall, Megan Webb and Robyn Lock who have all made their international debuts this autumn.

The BaaBaas team includes a familiar face in Dyddgu Hywel who only retired from international rugby with Wales earlier this year.

They are also coached by former Wales captain Rachel Taylor, who represented her country 67 times and now coaches the men’s team for North Wales Rugby and Colywn Bay.

Scotland wing Lauren Harris is also included as are Ireland trio Paula Fitzpatrick, Anna Caplice and Jenny Murphy.

And Wales coach and former prop Chris Horsman is excited for his side to take on some of the best in the business.

He said: “The autumn has already been successful in terms of what we set out to do. We’ve exposed a host of players to international rugby and they have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. We’ve created strength in depth in all positions ahead of the Six Nations.

“We’ve made big demands on the girls as players, athletes and individuals over the last six weeks in order to drive performance standards and selection for this game is a huge reward for what we’ve asked of them.”

Wales Women v Barbarians (Saturday 30 November, Principality Stadium, 11.45am):

Wales Women: Lauren Smyth; Paige Randall, Megan Webb, Kerin Lake, Lisa Neumann; Elinor Snowsill, Keira Bevan; Gwenllian Pyrs, Kelsey Jones , Cerys Hale, Natalia John, Gwen Crabb, Robyn Lock, Bethan Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap (capt)

Replacements: Molly Kelly, Gwenllian Jenkins, Amy Evans, Abbie Fleming, Alex Callender, Ffion Lewis, Robyn Wilkins, Kayleigh Powell

Barbarians: Tess Gard’ner, Lauren Harris, Ariana Hira, Jenny Murphy, Dyddgu Hywel, Ruahaei Demant, Briana Miller, Steph Te Ohaere-Fox (capt), Clara Nielson, Silvia Turani, Eloise Blackwell, Rebecca Clough, Paula Fitzpatrick, Anna Caplice, Charmaine McMenamin

Replacements: Sascha Acheson, Saki Minami, Seina Saito, Beth Stafford, Alycia Washington, Ashlee Byrge, Sene Naoupu, Annabel Sargeant