Connacht’s Ciara O’Connor makes her first start for Ireland today.

The Ireland Women’s team to play Japan in their second Pool C match of the Women’s Rugby World Cup today sees four Connacht players in the starting XV with a fifth among the replacements.

Head coach Tom Tierney has made seven personnel changes and two positional switches to the side that defeated Australia on the tournament’s opening night.

There is one new cap in the team as scrum-half Nicole Cronin, a former Ireland Sevens Player of the Year from Limerick, starts today’s clash at the UCD Bowl (5.15pm).

Some regular starters are rested with next Thursday’s showdown against France looming large on the horizon, while the Irish management are keen to see the incoming players stake their claims for a starting berth.

Connacht tighthead Ciara O’Connor, who impressed off the bench against the Wallaroos, comes in for her first international start in the front row, replacing Ailis Egan. It will be a fifth start for Ciara Cooney who pairs up with Sophie Spence, an influential try-scoring replacement on Wednesday, in the second row.

The fourth and final change in the forwards sees Kerry’s Ciara Griffin rewarded for her own try-scoring cameo as a replacement. She will join Ashleigh Baxter and Connacht’s Claire Molloy in a rejigged back row, with Ireland’s WRWC 2017 captain moving to number 8.

Nicole Cronin will win her first 15s cap for Ireland as she partners the 46-times capped Nora Stapleton at half-back. Sene Naoupu is joined by Wexford native Katie Fitzhenry in the centre, the pair both being dual-code internationals.

Galway woman Mairead Coyne comes in to make her World Cup debut at full-back, meaning Hannah Tyrrell, who scored a try and kicked the match-winning conversion against Japan back in June, reverts to the right wing. Experienced Connacht winger Alison Miller completes the back-three.

Sevens international Louise Galvin is standing by to make her 15s debut off the bench, while flanker Anna Caplice (pictured below) and versatile Blackrock back Jeamie Deacon are poised to win their second caps in the green jersey.

Talking about the build-up to the Japan game and the selection, Tierney said: “We had a really tough encounter with Australia in the opening game, and while we came away with the win, there’s a number of areas that we’ve focused on over the past two days that we will need to improve on for the match against Japan.

“We know that the Japanese are going to throw everything at us. They’re very fit, they like to move the ball wide and they are very quick to the breakdown.

“We’ve made a number of changes to the side from the Australia game with a view to giving some players a rest from what was a very physical game, but we also want to give the other members of the squad the opportunity to show what they can do against a fast and agile Japanese team.”

Today’s Pool C fixture between Ireland and Japan will be broadcast live on eir Sport 2 and RTÉ Two. RTÉ 2fm will have live commentary on radio. There will be live streaming available on www.rwcwomens.com in selected regions.

IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Japan, 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup – Pool C, UCD Bowl, Sunday, August 13, kick-off 5.15pm):

15 Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)

14 Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

13 Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)

12 Sene Naoupu (Harlequins)

11 Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)

10 Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

9 Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster) *

1 Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)

2 Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster)

3 Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht)

4 Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)

5 Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

6 Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster)

7 Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)

8 Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) (capt)

Replacements:

16 Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)

17 Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht)

18 Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

19 Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster)

20 Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster)

21 Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Ulster)

22 Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster)

23 Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster) *

 

* Denotes uncapped player

 

IRELAND WOMEN’S WORLD CUP – POOL C SCHEDULE:

 

Wednesday, August 9: Ireland 19 Australia 17, UCD Bowl

Today: Ireland v Japan, UCD Bowl, 5.15pm

Thursday, August 17: France v Ireland, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

 

For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for the #WRWC2017 finals stages now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.

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