Nichola Fryday will captain the side from the second row, with two uncapped players named in the Match Day squad.
18-year-old Ulster prop Sadhbh McGrath is selected in the front row having impressed McWilliams and the Ireland coaching team during the recent Celtic Challenge competition, while Leinster’s Niamh O’Dowd is also in line for her debut cap off the bench.
The Ireland backline contains an exciting blend of youth and experience, with the likes of Méabh Deely, Aoife Dalton and Natasja Behan – who all made their debuts during last summer’s historic Tour of Japan – set to make their first Six Nations appearances.
Deely, Behan and Aoife Doyle make up the back three, with Dalton joined by the experienced Enya Breen in the Ireland midfield. Nicole Cronin and Molly Scuffil-McCabe are named as half-backs, with Dannah O’Brien and Vicky Irwin providing the backline reinforcements on the bench.
Up front, debutant McGrath packs down alongside Neve Jones and Linda Djougang, with captain Fryday and Sam Monaghan in the second row. Dorothy Wall, Maeve Óg O’Leary and Brittany Hogan are selected in the back row, with the uncapped O’Dowd, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Christy Haney, Jo Brown, Grace Moore and Hannah O’Connor giving McWilliams strong options from the bench.
In injury news, Edel McMahon and Aoife Wafer have been unfortunately ruled out of the Championship through injury.
Commenting on the selection, the Ireland Head Coach said:
“The start of a Championship campaign is always an exciting time and we come into this weekend ready to get to task against a strong Welsh side. We have had a good block of preparation and this is the start of the next chapter on our journey, which we started as a group in Japan last summer.”
Saturday’s match is live on RTÉ2 and the BBC iPlayer and there will be match updates in our live match centre.
Ireland Team & Replacements (v Wales, TikTok Women’s Six Nations, BT Cardiff Arms park, Saturday, March 25, 2:15)
15. Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)(2 caps)
14. Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC/Munster)(12)
13. Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)(2)
12. Enya Breen (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)(16)
11. Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(2)
10. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)(21)
9. Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(4)
1. Sadhbh McGrath (City of Derry/Cooke RFC/Ulster)*
2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster)(13)
3. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)(24)
4. Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht)(29)(Captain)
5. Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby)(10)
6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)(16)
7. Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)(3)
8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster)(10)
16. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere RFC/Munster)(4)
17. Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)*
18. Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(5)
19. Jo Brown (Worcester Warriors/IQ Rugby)(1)
20. Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby)(5)
21. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(14)
22. Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)(2)
23. Vicky Irwin (Sale Sharks/Ulster)(1).