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We’ve finally got the New Zealand team so I can now say, with some certainty, that the teams are up for the Ireland v New Zealand Women’s Autumn International at UCD Bowl on Sunday afternoon. Kick off 2:00pm. Live on Irish Rugby website.

Ireland have made eleven changes to the team that got whupped by Canada, in a team that features eight of the WRWC 2014 legacy players with Niamh Briggs, Nora Stapleton, Larissa Muldoon, Ailis Egan, Marie Louise Reilly, Claire Molloy and Paula Fitzpatrick all starting and Fiona Hayes benching.

Amazingly, at this stage in the series, Alison Miller returns to the sevens programme, an insult to this game that New Zealand have chosen not to take buy keeping Portia Woodman and Kelly Brazier under similar circumstances. You really have to ask where Ireland’s priorities are as they prepare for the 2017 WRWC.  👿

Mairead Coyne moves from full back to wing to accommodate the return of Briggs, Nicole Fowley and Sene Naoupu maintain their partnership in the centre and Ulster’s Claire McLaughlin makes her first start this season taking Miller’s place on the wing. Donegall duo Nora Stapleton and Larissa Muldoon reunite at halfback.

Up front Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Orla Fitzsimons and Ciara Griffin join Egan, Reilly, Molloy and Fitzpatrick.

New Zealand also feature eight of their WRWC 2014 legacy players in Selica Winiata, Renee Wickliffe, Kelly Brazier, Kendra Cocksedge,Fiao’o Faamausili, Aleisha Nelson, Eloise Blackwell and Jackie Fereti and overall they have made only four changes to the team that beat Canada on Wednesday afternoon.

The Black ferns were everything you would expect about a New Zealand side in that match, abrasive up front and quick to turn defense into attack with half back paring Cocksledge and Brazier particularly quick to exploit a gap. Hard,straight running from the Canadians, particularly by centre Andrea Burk and second row Latoya Blackwood did create some space but the Irish players will need to show substantially improved ball retention if they are to make any headway in this game.

The FRU Predicts: The inclusion of eight of the players that beat New Zealand in the 2014 WRWC will definitely help Ireland but to me there is still too big a gap in the core skills between them and the rest of their team mates, which New Zealand will exploit. Another learning opportunity for Ireland. The Black Ferns to pull away in the second half.

IRELAND WOMEN NEW ZEALAND WOMEN
Niamh Briggs15Selica Winiata
Mairead Coyne14Honey Hireme
Nicole Fowley13Portia Woodman
Sene Naoupu12Chelsea Alley
Claire McLaughlin11Renee Wickliffe
Nora Stapleton10Kelly Brazier
Larissa Muldoon9Kendra Cocksedge
Lindsay Peat1Toka Natu
Cliodhna Moloney2Fiao’o Faamausili
Ailis Egan3Aleisha Nelson
Marie Louise Reilly4Eloise Blackwell
Orla Fitzsimons5Charlene Gubb
Ciara Griffin6Charmaine Smith
Claire Molloy7Charmaine McMenamin
Paula Fitzpatrick8Angie Sisifa
Leah Lyons16Sosoli Talawadua
Fiona Hayes17Aldora Itunu
Fiona Reidy18Aotearoa Mata’u
Nichola Fryday19Jackie Fereti
Ciara Cooney20Sharnita Woodman
Mary Healy21Kristina Sue
Jackie Shiels22Hazel Tubic
Niamh Kavanagh23Janna Vaughan
24Kiritapu Demant
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