|DANNAH O’Brien has retained her place in the starting XV after Head Coach Greg McWilliams announced his team for Saturday’s second Test against Japan at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo (kick-off 7pm local time/11am Irish time, live on TG4).
It’s no surprise to see O’Brien picked at out half again as she was one of six uncapped players who impressed during last weekend’s memorable first Test win in Shizuoka, and with a number of players unavailable this week through injury, McWilliams and the Ireland coaching team have another opportunity to test squad depth and build further Test match experience within the group.
It will give the O’Brien family another excuse to gather around their television and cheer on Dannah from their home.
There are three changes in personnel to the Ireland starting team from the nine-try victory at Ecopa Stadium, with Dorothy Wall and Sam Monaghan unavailable for selection due to injury, while Christy Haney and Nicole Cronin, who both came off the bench last week, are also ruled out.
Back row Jo Brown has been named to make her debut against the Sakura Fifteen, while Jess Keating and Emma Tilly are in line to win their first caps off the bench.
McWilliams has named an unchanged backline for Saturday’s clash against Lesley McKenzie’s side, with Méabh Deely, Natasja Behan and Aoife Doyle continuing in the back three. Aoife Dalton, who marked her debut with a try last week, partners Enya Breen in midfield and O’Brien and Ailsa Hughes are the half backs.
In the pack, Laura Feely comes into the team at loosehead, Neve Jones is at hooker and Linda Djougang starts at tighthead. Monaghan’s absence means Hannah O’Connor switches from the back row to the second row, where she partners captain Nichola Fryday.
Brown starts at blindside flanker, Edel McMahon continues at openside and Grace Moore makes her first Ireland start at number eight.
On the bench, Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse and Katie O’Dwyer provide the front row reinforcements, with Taryn Schutzler and the uncapped Keating, who has been playing in America with Life University, completing the forward options available to McWilliams.
Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Leah Tarpey and Tilly, a member of the Women’s National Talent Squad (WNTS), complete the Ireland 23.
Commenting ahead of the game, McWilliams said: “We were really pleased with last weekend’s victory and it was a reward for the hard work the whole group have put in over the course of the summer programme, but the focus for us has been on improving, growing and being better on Saturday.
“This week has been a test of our resilience as there is no doubt the first Test took a huge amount out of the group, and as we go on this journey together we’ll learn a lot about the demands of Test match rugby. We’ve already grown hugely over the course of this Tour and we’re excited about the team selected for this weekend.
“It is a great chance for us to explore our depth further and give players the opportunity they deserve for their hard work and commitment and I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform in the green jersey.”
Saturday’s match is live on TG4 from 10.40am Irish time, while there will be extensive match day coverage on IrishRugby.ie and across Irish Rugby social media channels.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Japan Women, 2022 Summer Tour Second Test, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo, Saturday, August 27, kick-off 7pm local time/11am Irish time):
15. Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)(1)
14. Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(1)
13. Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)(1)
12. Enya Breen (TBC/Munster)(15)
11. Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC/Munster)(11)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC/Leinster)(1)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(15)
1. Laura Feely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)(23)
2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster)(12)
3. Linda Djougang (TBC/Leinster)(23)
4. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(13)
5. Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht) (capt)(28)
6. Jo Brown (Worcester Warriors/IQ Rugby)*
7. Edel McMahon (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby)(20)
8. Grace Moore Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby)(4)
16. Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(12)
17. Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)(6)
18. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(11)
19. Taryn Schutzler (Saracens/Ulster)(1)
20. Jess Keating (Life University/Leinster)*
21. Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(3)
22. Leah Tarpey (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)(1)
23. Emma Tilly (MU Barnhall RFC/Leinster)*
* Denotes uncapped player