Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 hosts Ireland have confirmed a 48-strong training group to prepare for the 9-26 August showpiece event in Dublin and Belfast.

Only two of the squad have not played international rugby for Ireland, be that in 15s or sevens, with 16 having played in both formats of the game. Nine players are uncapped in 15s rugby, among them schoolgirl Eve Higgins who will complete her Leaving Certificate before linking up with the others.

A handful of players are in contention for their third World Cup, including returning captain Niamh Briggs – who missed the Six Nations through injury – as well as Claire Molloy, Marie-Louise Reilly and Nora Stapleton.

Ireland sevens captain Lucy Mulhall is one of six players from the sevens squad who are uncapped at 15s level, another being Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe (pictured) who has scored 14 tries on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2016-17.

"From the November tests and throughout the Six Nations we wanted to develop depth in the squad and provide players with the opportunity to put their hand up for selection for the World Cup,” explained Ireland coach Tom Tierney.

Huge opportunity

“Finishing in second place in the Six Nations was a positive result for the team and we will look to build on this prior to August and the World Cup. The main goal for the coming months is to have our players as best prepared as possible for the World Cup.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the players, and for the country, to have an event as big as this one on our doorstep and we want to give the players every opportunity to perform over the course of the competition. 

“The aim now is to make sure the players that have been selected on this panel are all up to speed on how we want to play our game in August, as well as being physically fit for what will be a challenging and demanding tournament.”

The panel will be involved in both skills and national camps over the coming months, and will play two warm-up games against Japan and have a training camp with Spain, in the build-up to the World Cup where Ireland will face France, Australia and Japan in Pool C.

The final squad for WRWC 2017 will be confirmed in July.

Ireland training panel 

Forwards: Elaine Anthony, Ashleigh Baxter, Anna Caplice, Ciara Cooney, Jeamie Deacon, Ailis Egan, Laura Feely, Jennie Finlay, Paula Fitzpatrick, Orla Fitzsimons, Nichola Fryday, Ciara Griffin, Leah Lyons, Claire Molloy, Cliodhna Moloney, Heather O'Brien, Ciara O'Connor, Ruth O'Reilly, Lindsay Peat, Marie-Louise Reilly, Sophie Spence, Ilse van Staden.
 
Backs: Niamh Briggs, Nikki Caughey, Eimear Considine, Mairead Coyne, Nicole Cronin, Aoife Doyle, Katie Fitzhenry, Kim Flood, Stacey Flood, Nicole Fowley, Louise Galvin, Mary Healy, Eve Higgins, Ailsa Hughes, Niamh Kavanagh, Claire McLaughlin, Alison Miller, Larissa Muldoon, Lucy Mulhall, Jenny Murphy, Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe, Sene Naoupu, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Nora Stapleton, Hannah Tyrrell, Megan Williams.