It’s all getting real now!

Ireland and Australia have announced their teams for Wednesday’s opening Pool C game in the WRWC2017 at the UCD Bowl. Kick off 7:00pm, live on ITV4.

Ireland Head Coach Tom Tierney has opted for a blend of new blood and seasoned experience against an Australian team that has opted for something similar. Interestingly, Ireland feature seven players from their sevens programme compared to Australia’s (the current Sevens Olympic champions) selection of three. How players migrate from Sevens to the XV’s game is going to be one of the major talking points of this championship.

Ulster’s Ashleigh Baxter is the only sevens player to break into, what I would have regarded as, the “first choice” pack in what should be, given her extraordinary work rate, a low risk gamble. One thing if for sure is that Ash-bash will give her all though I do have my concerns over her lack of familiarity with the wing forward position having played on the wing in the last World Cup.

Ulster are also represented by Larissa Muldoon who takes her customary position at scrum half. It’s a game where Muldoon’s strengths should come to the fore as she loves nothing more than ordering a dominant pack around and I guess that it’s through the pack that Ireland are going to try and attack the Australians. The home side will certainly be wanting to limit the ball getting into the hands of the pacy Australian back line, with robust centre Sharni Williams and winger Mahalia Murphy obvious dangers.

Speaking to former Ireland Head Coach Philip Doyle about the selection there were a few concerns raised about the balance of the back row and the back three in defence. However, Doyle is confident that Ireland will get off to a winning start but stresses that Ireland can’t afford to rely solely on their pack throughout the tournament.

This back line must start strongly as the pack can’t do it all unlike the six Nations.

Definitely the talent is there. Ireland be will fitter and stronger but it will take time to break Australia down and they need to be patient. They also have the likes of Spence and Lyons on the bench to come on around the 50 minute mark, if needed.

Ireland should see this one through.

It’s a brutal tournament and the margins of success or failure are very tight. Australia go into this game with nothing to lose, but, while Ireland will have the vocal home support behind them, the hosts do carry the huge burden of expectation and they will go into this game knowing that a defeat could have catastrophic consequences on their further progression.

The FRU Predicts: Ireland to boss it up front and come away with a win. 

Note: Unfortunately, like many other of the Irish online media, we have been turned down for our usual photographic accreditation. Actually, it’s the first time in the seven years we’ve covered Ireland Women that we’ve ever been turned down. As we have built this site on our own photography over the years we have decided that we will use our own images, celebrating the players in Ulster Women’s Rugby, through out the tournament. 

Hannah Tyrrell 15 Samantha Treherne
Eimear Considine 14 Nareta Marsters
Jenny Murphy 13 Kayla Sauvao
Sene Naoupu 12 Sharni Williams
Alison Miller 11 Mahalia Murphy
Nora Stapleton 10 Trilleen Pomare
Larissa Muldoon 9 Katrina Barker
Lindsay Peat 1 Liz Patu
Cliodhna Moloney 2 Cheyenne Campbell
Ailis Egan 3 Hilisha Samoa
Paula Fitzpatrick 4 Chloe Butler
Marie Louise Reilly 5 Millie Boyle
Ashleigh Baxter 6 Mollie Gray
Claire Molloy 7 Shannon Parry
Heather O’Brien 8 Grace Hamilton
Leah Lyons 16 Emily Robinson
Ruth O’Reilly 17 Violeta Tupuola
Ciara O’Connor 18 Hana Ngaha
Sophie Spence 19 Rebecca Clough
Ciara Griffin 20 Alisha Hewett
Nicole Cronin 21 Fenella Hake
Katie Fitzhenry 22 Sarah Riordan
Mairead Coyne 23  Ashleigh Hewson