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Preview: Ireland look to give Griffin perfect send-off against Japan

Preview: Ireland look to give Griffin perfect send-off against Japan

Emotions will run high on Saturday when Ciara Griffin leads out Ireland for one final time against Japan after announcing her retirement from international rugby.

The 27-year-old will pick up her 41st cap at the RDS Arena, having captained her country since 2018 after making her debut in the 2016 Women’s Six Nations.

It will also be head coach Adam Griggs’ last match in charge of the team, with Greg McWilliams set to take over from him when his contract expires after this weekend’s fixture.

Ireland defeated higher-ranked USA in a history-making contest last time out, winning 20-10 in the first ever women’s international to be hosted at the RDS.

And ahead of the 2022 Women’s Six Nations and the dawn of a new era under McWilliams, the women in green will be determined to end their year on a high.

TEAM NEWS

Leinster duo Mary Healy and Ella Roberts and Connacht back Shannon Touhey are all included in an Ireland matchday squad for the first time as they look to make an impact off the bench.

Munster’s Aoife Doyle returns to the starting XV and is joined in the back three by Lauren Delany and Laura Sheehan, who are retained from last Friday’s win over USA in Dublin.

Griffin to captain Ireland for international farewell

Eimear Considine and Sene Naoupu continue their midfield partnership but Enya Breen makes her first start at No.10 as she joins Kathryn Dane in the half-back pairing.

Ciara Griffin Ireland

Stacey Flood, Beibhinn Parsons, Eve Higgins and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe are not involved as they prepare for Ireland’s return to HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The front row comprises of Laura Feely, Neve Jones and Linda Djougang, with the experienced Aoife McDermott returning to the second row alongside Sam Monaghan.

Griffin starts at blindside flanker for her 41st Ireland cap, with Edel McMahon continuing at openside and Hannah O’Connor back in the starting team at No.8 following injury.

Meanwhile, Japan will be captained by Saki Minami and Otoka Yoshimura is set to earn her first Test cap for her country after being named in the second-row.

WHAT THEY SAID

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs said: “Following on from last week’s win over USA, this is a really exciting opportunity for the group as we head into our second Autumn Test.

“A number of players have earned their opportunity and it’s important to explore the depth within the group and build layers of experience as the group build towards the 2022 Women’s Six Nations.

“It is particularly exciting to see a number of young players coming through the Inter-Pros and All-Ireland League, and for them to get their chance at Test level this weekend is paramount as the team enters a new cycle.”

Adam Griggs

THE TEAMS

Ireland: 15. Lauren Delany, 14. Aoife Doyle, 13. Eimear Considine, 12. Sene Naoupu, 11. Laura Sheehan, 10. Enya Breen, 9. Kathryn Dane; 1. Laura Feely, 2. Neve Jones, 3. Linda Djougang, 4. Aoife McDermott, 5. Sam Monaghan, 6. Ciara Griffin (Captain), 7. Edel McMahon, 8. Hannah O’Connor

Replacements: 16. Cliodhna Moloney, 17. Katie O’Dwyer, 18. Mary Healy, 19. Anna Caplice, 20. Maeve Og O’Leary, 21. Alisa Hughes, 22. Shannon Touhey, 23. Ella Roberts

Japan: 15. Ria Anoku, 14. Hinano Nagura, 13. Mana Furuta, 12. Kanako Kobayashi, 11. Komachi Kobayashi, 10. Ayasa Otsuka, 9. Moe Tsukui; 1. Sachiko Kato, 2. Nijiho Nagata, 3. Makoto Lavemai, 4. Kie Tamai, 5. Otoka Yoshimura, 6. Seina Saito, 7. Misaki Suzuki, 8. Ayano Nagai

Replacements: 16.Hinata Komaki, 17. Ayumu Kokaji, 18. Wako Kitano, 19. Saki Minami, 20. Iroha Nagata, 21. Yuki Ito, 22. Megumi Abe, 23. Minori Yamamoto