McWilliams backs Caughey to lead Ireland to final day Scotland win

Ulster outhalf making her first appearance since November 2018 in Belfast

Women’s Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland, Kingspan Stadium, Saturday, 8pm – Live RTÉ2

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams is hopeful the returning Nikki Caughey can help to steer his side towards victory against Scotland in the final round of the Women's Six Nations at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Saturday night.

A debutant back in the 2012 championship – when McWilliams was part of Philip 'Goose' Doyle's coaching set-up – Caughey's most recent appearance for her country was an autumn international defeat to England at Twickenham Stadium on November 24th, 2018. She lined out alongside Nicole Cronin at halfback in that game, but now takes over from her in the No 10 jersey due to the broken rib the Limerick native sustained in last weekend's heavy defeat.

“While losing Nicole isn’t ideal, I think we’ve someone coming in who will be very good at hopefully putting us into good positions around the park. I’m excited to see how she does. She had been involved with myself from 2012, when she was very young. It’s just funny now to see her on the other side of that across the training field,” McWilliams remarked.

“She has matured into somebody who has got knowledge around the game. I’ve really enjoyed reconnecting with her and I’m excited for her and her family to go out and represent Ireland this weekend.”

Caughey is one of four Ulster women to make the cut for the encounter, with Kathryn Dane, Neve Jones and debutant Vicky Irwin being the others who are set to feature in their home province. Having previously played for City of Armagh and Cooke, Irwin currently lines out overseas with Sale Sharks in the Premier 15s.

“Vicky Irwin has been with us since the very first camp that we had. She has got a good kicking game and she deserves her shot. She did very well [in a training game] against Barnhall two weeks ago and I’m looking forward to seeing how she goes,” McWilliams added.

Aside from Irwin and Caughey replacing the injured duo of Considine and Cronin respectively, the only other change from last week's 69-0 defeat to England sees the fit-again Sam Monaghan replacing Aoife McDermott in the secondrow.

While Ireland are principally motivated by a desire to sign off on the Six Nations in a winning fashion, they will also be looking to get one over on the Scots following last year’s World Cup qualification exit at their hands in Parma.

IRELAND: V Irwin; A Doyle, S Naoupu, E Breen, M Scuffil-McCabe; N Caughey, K Dane; L Djougang, N Jones, C Haney; N Fryday, S Monaghan; D Wall, E McMahon, H O'Connor.

Replacements: E Hooban, C Pearse, K O'Dwyer, A McDermott, G Moore, M Og O'Leary, A Hughes, M Claffey.

SCOTLAND: C Rollie; R Lloyd, L Thomson, H Nelson, S Campbell; S Law, C Mattinson; M Wright, L Skeldon, C Belisle; E Wassell, Sarah Bonar; R Malcolm, R McLachlan; E Gallagher.

Replacements: J Rettie, L Bartlett, K Dougan, L McMillan, E Donaldson, M McDonald, E Orr, M Gaffney.