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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Wing sensation Beibhinn Parsons on the bench for Ireland's Six Nations opener versus Wales

IRELAND'S star winger Beibhinn Parsons will be sprung from the bench in the Six Nations opener in the RDS on Saturday.

Parsons is coming back from injury and, while fit, the Mayo sensation is being given time by new head coach Greg McWilliams to ease her way into the tournament.

While her absence from the start is a loss, Ireland will be confident of getting off to a strong start in the championship having hammered Wales 45-0 last year.

McWilliams is preaching caution in terms of predicting a similar result as the Welsh have appointed a new coach in Ioan Cunningham and have a number of professional players now on board.

He is relishing the prospect of seeing a dynamic back three in action with Eimear Considine at full-back and Lucy Mulhall and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe on either wing.

McWilliams overlooking their Blanchardstown session (©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

"I think we've selected a brilliant back-three," he enthused.

"In the modern game, you want your back-three to be really active, they're nearly like extra centres.

"Sometimes they're like back rowers. The game has changed and I think we've got a really good mix in the back-three.

"And I think having somebody like Beibhinn to be able to come off the bench to provide an impact is good for us, and I'm looking forward to seeing it operate at the weekend."

He added: "Beibh's been working really hard. I think it's right for her to come off the bench.

"I think we need to be smart about how we use all of our players.

"Beibh's been training brilliantly but we just need to make sure that we look after her minutes.

"To have her to come off the bench to add that impact is going to be really important for us - along with Anna McGann and our tight five reserves, we're going to use our bench and we hope to see her coming off and doing some damage, hopefully."

As well as a new captain in Nichola Fryday, who replaces the retired Ciara Griffin, Ireland could have three debutants on Saturday - scrum-half Aoibheann Reilly makes her bow from the start and new faces Anna McGann and Christy Haney are on the bench.

"She's somebody who's got a massive future, and I'm just excited to see her go out," said McWilliams of Reilly.

Ireland team: Eimear Considine, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall, Nicole Cronin, Aoibheann Reilly; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer, Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon , Brittany Hogan.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Christy Haney, Anna McGann, Hannah O'Connor, Kathryn Dane, Enya Breen, Beibhinn Parsons.

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