Nine members of the Ospreys Women squad have been named in the Wales side that travels to Dublin to face defending Six Nations champions Ireland on Saturday in the opening round of the Six Nations
Ireland have held the upper hand in recent times, having gone four straight games without defeat but Rachel Taylor’s side head for Donnybrook buoyed by their recent 15-5 success against the Irish in an uncapped game held at Ystrad Mynach.
Wales Women’s head coach Rhys Edwards openly admits World Cup qualification is the team’s ultimate goal and a victory against Ireland would set them on their way nicely.
“It’s important we kick on from the win against Ireland and take confidence from beating a really good team,” he said.
There are a number of intriguing team selections with Adi Taviner moving to full back from her customary centre spot with youngster Robyn Wilkins getting the nod at fly half ahead of the experienced Elinor Snowsill.
In the pack, Sioned Harries is switched to the second from the back row while Shona Powell-Hughes starts from No8 instead of the second row.
“Adi has been a real threat this season for club and region at full back – she was a constant threat against Ireland so she has been given another opportunity to show her class,” said Edwards.
“Robyn also came through well against Ireland and controlled the game and with our intent to play an attack-minded game both should figure prominently on Saturday.
“In the forwards it is a case of maximising our strengths – we’re blessed with the talent we have got in the back row with four exceptional players fighting for three positions so it is a case of managing our best players and getting them on the pitch at the same time.”
While form would dictate Ireland begin the match as favourites, the omens are good for Wales as this game is Ireland’s first visit to Donnybrook since they lost to Wales there in 2006.
Wales Women v Ireland - Donnybrook, Saturday 6th February
15 Adi Taviner (Ospreys / Skewen)
14 Elen Evans (Scarlets / Caernarfon)
13 Kerin Lake (Ospreys / Skewen)
12 Hannah Jones (Scarlets / Penybanc)
11 Bethan Dainton (Dragons/ Bristol)
10 Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys / Llandaff North)
9 Keira Bevan; (Ospreys/ Skewen)
1 Megan York (Dragons / Ynysddu)
2 Carys Phillips (Ospreys/ Skewen)
3 Amy Evans (Ospreys / Skewen)
4 Rebecca Rowe (Dragons / Richmond)
5 Sioned Harries (Scarlets/ Whitland)
6 Rachel Taylor (Captain - Dragons/ Caernarfon)
7 Sian Williams (Dragons / Worcester)
8 Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys/ Skewen)
16 Amy Price (Ospreys/ Skewen)
17 Catrin Edwards (Scarlets/ Llandaff North)
18 Cerys Hale (Dragons/ Pontyclun)
19 Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys/ Skewen)
20 Alisha Butchers (Scarlets/ Penybanc)
21 Elinor Snowsill (Dragons / Bristol)
22 Gemma Rowland (Dragons/ Wasps)
23 Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets/ Pontyclun)