Ireland name full-strength side for semi-final clash with England
England bring back skipper Katy McLean at outhalf for Paris clash
Nora Stapleton returns at outhalf for Ireland’s Women’s World Cup semi-final against England in Paris on Wednesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Ireland coach Philip Doyle has named the same starting XV that beat New Zealand for Wednesday’s Women’s World Cup semi-final against England in Paris (5.0pm Irish time).
Ireland made 10 changes for the final pool victory over Kazakhstan after two intense and physical pool encounters against the USA and New Zealand.
Niamh Briggs returns at fullback and first-choice wingers Ashleigh Baxter and Alison Miller either side of the midfield pairing of Lynne Cantwell and Grace Davitt, who will start a fourth match together in the tournament.
The final two changes come in the backrow, with Claire Molloy in at openside and Heather O’Brien returning at No 8 after recovering from a finger injury, letting Paula Fitzpatrick move back to blindside.
England make six changes including the return of captain Katy McLean at outhalf in place of Ceri Large after she missed the final two pool games. She forms a new halfback partnership with with scrumhalf La Toya Mason.
“This is a hugely experienced side and it is a settled side too with the core of this team playing three out of the four games in this World Cup,” said England head coach Gary Street.
“Ceri Large has done a great job at flyhalf for this tournament but it is great to welcome back Katy who is feeling fresh and ready to go.”
IRELAND: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile).
ENGLAND: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Kay Wilson (Bristol); Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks (capt), La Toya Mason (Wasps); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), Sophie Hemming (Bristol); Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps); Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).
Replacements: Emma Croker (Richmond), Laura Keates (Worcester), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Marlie Packer (Wasps), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Ceri Large (Worcester), Claire Allan (Richmond).