The teams have been announced for Friday evening’s RBS Women’s Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Broadwood Stadium, Glasgow. Kick off 18:35. The match will be shown live on Scottish Rugby TV.

Ireland have included five uncapped players in their squad as coach Tom Tierney continues to evaluate his options ahead of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. The new introductions include Cooke and Ulster’s Ilse Van Staden who should make her debut off the bench. Railway Union’s Ailsa Hughes wins her first cap as starting scrum half and Jennie Finlay, Ciara O’Connor and Eimear Considine join Van Staden on the bench with all of them hoping to get substantial game time. 

Ulster and Cooke’s Claire McLaughlin also starts from the bench with Leinster’s Jenny Murphy, returning after a couple of seasons away,  chosen to partner Sene Naoupu in the centre. I’d like to see McLaughlin and Murphy get a run out together but I suspect Tierney has Naoupu nailed on at inside centre! 

Despite the absence of Niamh Briggs, due to recurring injury problems, this is, in my opinion, a substantially stronger Ireland side than the one that finished off the Six Nations last season with a 45 – 12 win against the same opponents. The inclusion of Orla Fitzsimmons and Marie Louise Reilly in the second row adds considerable grunt and nous and the back row of Paula Fitzpatrick (captain), Junior Griffin and the wonderful Claire Molloy should ensure Ireland plenty of ball at the breakdown. There is a bit of inexperience at hooker, and there might be a few ropey lineouts, but they should only be minor bumps in a powerful Ireland side’s progress. 

It is all about experience for a gutsy Scottish side, who are improving and will feel they have something to prove after being pipped by Spain for the last European berth for the upcoming World Cup. Their back line only see’s one change from the last time these teams met, with Helen Nelson coming in at out half and bumping Sarah Law to scrum half and Jenny Maxwell to the bench. I’m glad to see the feisty Rhona Lloyd continuing on the wing, she impressed last time out, and I look forward to seeing how Kav handles her! 

Up front, Scotland have made a couple of changes to the front row and Louise McMillan is a new face, to me at least, in the back row. 

The FRU Predicts: It should be a comfortable win for Ireland, though maybe not as comfortable as the last time this pair met. Ireland are 3-4 players short of where they want to be I’d guess, but they should have too much power. 

SCOTLAND WOMEN   IRELAND WOMEN
Chloe Rollie 15 Mairead Coyne
Megan Gaffney 14 Niamh Kavanagh
Lisa Thomson 13 Jenny Murphy
Lisa Martin 12 Sene Naoupu
Rhona Lloyd 11 Alison Miller
Helen Nelson 10 Nora Stapleton
Sarah Law 9 Ailsa Hughes
Tracy Balmer 1 Lindsay Peat
Rachel Malcolm 2 Leah Lyons
Lindsey Smith 3 Ailis Egan
Emma Wassell 4 Orla Fitzsimons
Deborah McCormack 5 Marie Louise Reilly
Karen Dunbar 6 Ciara Griffin
Louise McMillan 7 Claire Molloy
Jade Konkel 8 Paula Fitzpatrick
     
Lucy Park 16 Jennie Finlay
Heather Lockhart 17 Ilse van Staden
Katie Dougan 18 Ciara O’Connor
Sarah Bonar 19 Elaine Anthony
Jemma Forsyth 20 Nichola Fryday
Jenny Maxwell 21 Mary Healy
Lauren Harris 22 Claire McLaughlin
Eilidh Sinclair 23 Eimear Considine

#SUFTUM