Following the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship and the recently concluded Celtic Challenge tournament, McWilliams and the Ireland coaching team have confirmed their panel for the upcoming Championship, with eight uncapped players included in the squad.
Forwards Niamh O’Dowd, Sadhbh McGrath, Fiona Tuite and Molly Boyne have all impressed for the Combined Provinces XV during their unbeaten Celtic Challenge campaign and earn a first Ireland call up, while uncapped IQ Rugby duo Kathryn Buggy and Clara Neilson are also included.
Ella Roberts was one of the stars of the Celtic Challenge campaign and off the back of her performances for the Combined Provinces, is one of two uncapped backs in the squad alongside Harlequins scrum-half Emma Swords.
Having assumed the captaincy for last year’s Six Nations, Nichola Fryday will once again skipper the side from the second row, with the likes of Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Sam Monaghan and Hannah O’Connor providing valuable experience in McWilliams’ pack.
There is an exciting look to Ireland’s backline options with Dannah O’Brien, Méabh Deely, Aoife Dalton and Tash Behan, who all made their Test debuts during the historic Summer Tour of Japan, set to feature in their first Six Nations campaign.
In addition to the 32 players included in the Six Nations squad, McWilliams has named 12 players in a wider training panel who will also assemble at the IRFU High Performance Centre this weekend for a two-day camp: Mary Healy, Megan Collis, Andrea Stock, Emma Hooban, India Daley, Claire Bennett, Katie Whelan, Leah Tarpey, Kayla Waldron, Ella Durkan, Clare Gorman and Aoife Corey.
Ireland open their Championship away to Wales at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday, 25 March (Kick-off 2.15pm, live on RTÉ2), before facing France at Musgrave Park in Cork on Saturday, 1 April (Kick-off 3.15pm, live on Virgin Media).