Sam Monaghan returns to captain Ireland for Six Nations clash with Italy

Head coach Scott Bemand makes four changes from the side that lost to France for Sunday’s game at the RDS

Sam Monaghan returns to captain Ireland for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with Italy at the RDS on Easter Sunday (3pm)

The secondrow is one of four changes from the loss to France in Le Mans made by head coach Scott Bemand, with Grace Moore named at blindside flanker, having come off the bench last week.

The frontrow remains the same with Linda Djougang and Christy Haney packing down either side of Neve Jones. Dorothy Wall partners Monaghan in the secondrow while Aoife Wafer moves across the backrow with Moore coming in and Brittany Hogan again starting at number eight.

Dannah O’Brien comes in at outhalf this week and is partnered by Aoibheann Reilly.

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Enya Breen makes her return to international action for the first time since picking up an injury in last year’s opening round of the championship against Wales and she partners Eve Higgins in the centre.

The back three remains unchanged with Béibhinn Parsons, Katie Corrigan and Lauren Delany set to start.

Eimear Corri comes on to the bench to join Sarah Delaney, Niamh O’Dowd, Sadhbh McGrath and Fiona Tuite as the forward replacements. Aoife Dalton is named alongside Nicole Fowley and Molly Scuffil-McCabe as the backs.

Commenting on the selection, Bemand said: “We are incredibly excited to bring our game back to Irish shores.

“Last week we saw progression but know we’ve got to keep going after on-pitch performance. We have made some changes to the side from last week and this reflects the competition that is building in the squad.

“We want Irish people to see how much it means and to want to be part of it. Momentum is building within the squad through training and I am confident that the players will give the fans something to get behind.

“We are expecting a tough challenge from an ambitious Italy team. It should make for a real occasion to showcase our game.”

IRELAND v (Italy): Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby); Katie Corrigan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster), Enya Breen (Blackrock College/Munster), Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College/Connacht); Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College/Connacht); Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Christy Haney (Blackrock College/Leinster); Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster), Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury, capt); Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby), Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College/Leinster), 8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere/Ulster).

Replacements: Sarah Delaney (Blackrock College/Leinster), Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke/Ulster), Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere/Ulster), Eimear Corri (Blackrock College/Leinster), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Leinster), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

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