DOROTHY WALL has warned Ireland’s TikTok Six Nations rivals ahead of Saturday’s opener against Wales at the RDS.
The Blackrock and Munster flanker is back in the squad after missing the November window with a finger injury as Greg McWilliams started his debut season.
Unlike their six-nation rivals, Ireland are not taking part in the World Cup this year and are therefore at a very different stage in their development.
And Wall reckons that freedom will make the team a threat to everyone.
“I think we’re trying to get the best out of ourselves,” said the Tipperary native.
“It’s a very positive team environment at the moment.
“We meet our requirements. There’s a great sense of camaraderie. i really enjoy it I think the whole team.
“It feels like a new chapter for women’s rugby. And I think the other thing is we have absolutely nothing to lose and that’s really dangerous in a team if you ask me.”
McWilliams has given scrum cap Aoibheann Reilly a first cap, while Anna McGann and Christy Haney will make their debuts if they are brought off the bench.
Beibhinn Parsons is named among the substitutes and McWilliams said he is managing the star’s minutes after a recent injury.
“Beibh has worked really hard. I think it’s right that she comes off the bench,” said the new coach.
“I think we have to be smart about how we use all our players.
“Beibh has been training brilliantly but we just have to make sure we take care of her minutes. It will be really important for us that she comes off the bench to make that impact – along with Anna McGann and our scarce five reserves. We’re going to use our bench and hope it comes loose and hopefully does some damage.
Lucy Mulhall starts on left wing, with Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe on right and Eimear Considine at full-back.
“I think we picked a brilliant back three.
“In the modern game you want your back of three to be really active, they’re almost like extra centers.
“Sometimes they’re like back rowers. The game has changed and I think we have a really good mix in the back three.
“And I think it’s good for us to have someone like Beibhinn who can come off the bench to make a difference and I look forward to seeing him in action over the weekend.”
McWilliams thinks Ballinasloe native Reilly can influence the debut.
“First and foremost, she’s a brilliant person,” he said.
“She’s really important to the group. She’s a really good energizer. She understands her role well and she is very talented.
“She’s someone who has a huge future and I’m just excited to see her go out. You’d say to someone like Aoibheann, ‘Just worry about doing your own job, you’re not doing anything special, just do what you do and you’ll be fine.’
“But it’s just that she enjoys the occasion and takes it all in because they’re special occasions, you want them to enjoy those occasions and Aoibheann is just another player who has the opportunity to go out and have something special for herself to do for themselves, for their families and for the group.”
Ireland beat Wales in the opening weekend of last year’s tournament but they have made changes over the past 12 months, including hiring a new coach in Ioan Cunningham and signing a contingent of professional players.
“I’m not looking back at last year’s game because you’re dealing with a completely different animal,” McWilliams said.
“Remember, they all have momentum towards the Rugby World Cup.
“There are seven or eight players who play for Bristol in the Premier XVs, at a good level. I’ve mentioned people like (Siwan) Lillicrap or Jazz Joyce, you also see Megan Webb and (Robyn) Wilkins and (Keira ) Bevan in the halfbacks, I mean they’re really good rugby players and they’re in that professional environment more often now.
“There are 12 full-time professionals, there are 12 part-time professionals. Ioan Cunningham, their coach, is someone I mentioned before, I’m with him in a WhatsApp group that Bernard Jackman created and he’s a smart coach, he offers a lot.
“I think Wales have the right person to lead this programme. I think Nigel Walker is doing a great job behind the scenes with the community.
“I think it’s a completely different outfit that we pick. I think it’s great to start with.
“There’s always a good ding-dong with Wales and I think they’ll be ready to go.
“They are preparing for a World Cup and will have their ducks lined up. They’re very good, they did well in their November Tests, and they did well against the Falcons last week, judging by the scoreline. We’ve clipped our work and look forward to trying it out.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/beibhs-been-training-brilliantly-but-we-just-need-to-look-after-her-minutes-greg-mcwilliams-on-parsons-absence-41483544.html “Beibh has been training brilliantly but we just have to worry about her minutes” – Greg McWilliams on Parsons’ absence