Wales Women flankers Manon Johnes and Alisha Butchers (pictured) will make their first international start of the season against Ireland on Sunday (Energia Park, Donnybrook, 1pm).
Former Glantaf pupil Johnes missed the autumn series through injury while Butchers spent the autumn playing sevens for Adelaide University along with teammates Jasmine Joyce and Hannah Jones – one of Wales’ try scorers against Italy last weekend.
Both flankers came on against Italy on Sunday. There are no other changes from the opening 15-19 loss to the Azzurre.
Coach Chris Horsman said, “We are extremely lucky with the riches we have available to us in the back row. It’s a hotly contested area and it’s a case of giving these players a chance to shine and provide the right balance in this match. Beth (Lewis) and Alex (Callender) will also play a key part as Manon and Alisha did from the bench last Sunday.
“We are comfortable with where we are as a group. We showed how dangerous we can be in the first-half against Italy, our scrum was excellent against a bigger Italian team and defensively we were very good but we need to manage our possession better and be more clinical with ball in hand.
“The girls should be confident going into the weekend. We did well to come back into the game and be with a shout of sneaking the win and we learned a lot from the game.
“All Round One games were extremely tight which shows how competitive the Six Nations is this year. It’s all about how you perform on the day which is what we’ve been working on.”
Wales Women v Ireland (1pm Sunday 9 Feb, Energia Park, Donnybrook): Kayleigh Powell; Jasmine Joyce, Hannah Jones, Kerin Lake, Lisa Neumann; Robyn Wilkins, Keira Bevan; Gwenllian Pyrs, Kelsey Jones, Cerys Hale, Natalia John, Gwen Crabb, Alisha Butchers, Manon Johnes, Siwan Lillicrap (capt)
Replacements: Molly Kelly, Cara Hope, Ruth Lewis, Georgia Evans, Bethan Lewis, Alex Callender, Ffion Lewis, Paige Randall
We are comfortable with where we are as a group... We showed how dangerous we can be in the first-half against Italy, our scrum was excellent against a bigger Italian team...