Ireland coach Philip Doyle has made a surprising ten changes to the starting line up for Ireland’s match against Kazakhstan tomorrow afternoon, their last Pool game in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
It’s a surprising number of changes from the normally cautious Doyle, who only utilised 23 players in the whole of the Grand Slam Six Nations in 2013, and, with Ireland only one game away from their first ever top four finish, it’s a rather audacious selection.
There is a backbone of experience in Gill Bourke, Larissa Muldoon, Tania Rosser, Grace Davitt and captain Lynne Cantwell together with a sprinkling of seasoned players in Fiona Hayes, Laura Guest and Siobhan Fleming but, even at that, it’s still easily the least experienced side Ireland have fielded in the last three years.
However, with two huge games in the offing it’s definitely the right call to rest key players and give the whole team experience and, don’t worry, if things don’t go to plan there is a big comfortable blanket of experience on the bench that can come on to change the game.
Such is the measure of Ireland’s rapid progression to the upper echelons of the women’s game that they will still be overwhelming favourites to win this one even though the teams have met four times before and Kazakhstan have won three to Ireland’s one.
Kazakhstan’s last win was fourteen years ago in 2000 and Ireland won the last meeting 37 – 3 in the 2010 Women’s World Cup though they did struggle for large periods of the first half if my memory serves me correctly.
To add further comfort to Ireland’s cause their opponents are the youngest, smallest and, by some stretch, the lightest side in Pool B and while they may offer some spirited resistance it really should be Ireland’s day.
Any win at all will put Ireland into the top four play offs, most likely as the third ranked qualifier. With the top two unbeaten sides playing each other in the other two pools it’s still a bit of a lottery as to who they will actually play with England, France, Canada and Australia all a possibility. However I’m predicting France to beat Australia and Canada to beat England with Canada Ireland’s next opponents.
|Jackie Shiels||15||Aigerym Daurembayeva|
|Vikki McGinn||14||Oxana Shadrina|
|Lynne Cantwell (C)||13||Anna Yakovleva (C)|
|Grace Davitt||12||Balzhan Koishybayeva|
|Hannah Casey||11||Lyudmila Sapronova|
|Tania Rosser||10||Svetlana Klyuchnikova|
|Larissa Muldoon||9||Amina Baratova|
|Fiona Hayes||1||Yelena Muradova|
|Gillian Bourke||2||Yelena Yevdokimova|
|Kerri Ann Craddock||3||Olga Bakhtiguzina|
|Laura Guest||4||Lyudmila Matiyeva|
|Orla Fitzsimons||5||Svetlana Karatygina|
|Sharon Lynch||6||Symbat Zhamankulova|
|Siobhan Fleming||7||Kundyzay Baktybayeva|
|Paula Fitzpatrick||8||Marianna Balashova|
|Fiona Coghlan||16||Irina Radzevil|
|Ailis Egan||17||Yelena Rogacheva|
|Sophie Spence||18||Yelena Kiryushina|
|Claire Molloy||19||Karina Proskurina|
|Nora Stapleton||20||Anastassiya Khamova|
|Alison Miller||21||Aigul Dairbayeva|
|Ashleigh Baxter||22||Olga Sazonova|