McWilliams defends decision to keep Star Parsons on the bench

Greg McWilliams has defended the decision to once again drop sensational winger Beibhinn Parson from his starting line-up, despite admitting she is the “most exciting player” in his squad.

he Galway flyer has a goal average of a try in every other game but after missing against a Welsh side who stunned the Irish at home in the Six Nations opener, the 20-year-old had to reappear for the daunting Toulouse game to take on the bench against the fully professional French squad.

“Look, I had a talk with Beibhinn on Monday. She was ridiculous. She’s fully fit, she’s ready to go but as a group we thought it would be best to bench the same 23 with ‘Bey’ to break free and do some damage.

“It’s hard for them because when you replaced one of the three defenders with Bey and that was your only change from the team that played Wales, it’s like that one player did something that made it happen that things did not go their way .

“So I think it’s important to have faith in the 15 and Bey totally understands that. We care about the team and the squad and Bey is just one player in the larger group of 26 for this game against France.

“But she’s without question, I think, our most exciting player and she has a big role to play as we progress. Not just for this Six Nations, but after the World Sevens, she’s going to be very committed to us and she’s world class.

“I know the Irish want to see them play and you will this weekend.”

The side have drafted some heavyweights to help them prepare this week – rugby director David Nucifora, along with Irish assistants Paul O’Connell and John Fogarty doing their part.

“It’s really important that you give the players the opportunity to correct themselves and improve,” added McWilliams.

“I think it shows the confidence in the group. It shows that there is a good team spirit. It was a tough decision, from the group, from the players, that we go again right away, everyone deserves it.

“Sometimes as a coach you make a change or two to a team. Especially my first game taking over my second can sometimes just send the wrong image so I have full confidence in the group we have to go again.

“We learned a lot against Wales. There is a certain level of Moxy that you need to play this game and it is important that we understand that you must have that as well as the intelligence. You have to be able to go into those physical cauldrons and compete.

“The group are aware of the areas we are working on, they have put in a tremendous effort this week and now we have to go to France and test ourselves against an impressive opposition but someone I think is there, if we can do it bring what we want into play

“France have power and pace, especially when they play at home they get good energy from the crowd so they will attack us from all angles.”

Meanwhile, France have changed almost half of the starting line-up that raged to a six-nation win over Italy on Day 1, expecting they to clinch a second win against struggling Ireland with some ease this weekend .

In a match that pits professionals against amateurs, the home side plot a way to end England’s long-standing championship dominance.

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There are three changes in the pack: youngster Coco Lindelauf starts at Loosehead Prop and Laure Touyé comes in at Hooker, while Axelle Berthomieu comes in the back row at Blindside Flanker and Romane Ménager moves in eighth.

In defence, Laure Sansus starts off the bench after an impressive display while it’s an all new back three as Mélissande Llorens, Cyrielle Banet and Émilie Boulard all come in.

There are also three new faces on the bench, backup hooker Célia Domain, lock Céline Ferer and back rower Julie Annery.

Head coach Thomas Darracq explained: “We have a homogenous group of 36 players, which allows us to change the squad to suit our opponent.

“We also worked on some aspects this week that were missing on Sunday against Italy. On Saturday we have to play against a physically strong Irish team at the Stade Ernest Wallon with the weather.”

15 Emilie Boulard 14 Cyrielle Banet 13 Maëlle Filopon 12 Gabrielle Vernier 11 Mélissande Llorens 10 Caroline Drouin 9 Laure Sansus 1 Coco Lindelauf 2 Laure Touyé 3 Clara Joyeux 4. Madoussou case, 5. Audrey Forlani, 6. Axelle Berthomieu, 7. Gaëlle Hermet (c), 8. Romane Ménager

Replacements: 16th Célia Domain, 17th Annaëlle Deshayes, 18th Assia Khalfaoui, 19th Céline Ferer, 20th Julie Annery, 21st Alexandra Chambon, 22nd Jessy Trémoulière, 23rd Chloé Jacquet McWilliams defends decision to keep Star Parsons on the bench

Fry Electronics Team

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