Wales are in fine form of late, with November victories over Italy (30-7) and Holland (24-0). Since their opening day defeat to England last year, Wales have won their last seven internationals and head into Saturday's game with plenty of confidence.
Having performed so well last year Wales Head Coach Fielies Coetsee understands the importance for Wales to develop their game to another level now if they are to challenge for the title.
"Last year we were the underdogs and nobody knew how we would play, but this time they will have done their homework on us. We have had to make changes in our game plan," said Coetsee. "The challenge now for us as a team to take our game on another level and give sides something else to think about."
The entire Wales starting team were involved in last season's tournament and will again be captained by the inspirational Mel Berry. Berry, an open side, will start the game at scrum half, a position she has come accustomed to playing for her country, and will be partnered at half back by Naomi Thomas.
Claire Flowers reverts back to centre, having played on the wing against Holland, partnered by Rachel Poolman. Flowers, who will win her forty-fifth cap this weekend, feels the side selected has an important blend of youth and senior players.
"I think there is a really good balance of youth and experience and there are younger players coming through again this year," said Flowers. "I do feel that mix of youth and experience is there and it is just what we need for a successful campaign this year."
Rhian Bowden continues at hooker, having impressed for club and country this season, while Liza Burgess wins her eighty-thirrd cap from the second row. On the bench there are call ups for Nicola Evans and Stacey Saunders, while Hayley Baxter returns after an eighteen month absence.
Ireland Coach, John O'Sullivan, meanwhile has named a team packed with seasoned internationals with just one new cap in the starting line up.
Ulster hooker, Jess Limbert, comes into the side for the first time in the front row while there is one new face on the bench with loose forward Debbie Clarke's inclusion.
Ireland Captain, Sarahjane Belton says Wales will present tough opposition, despite not being part of last year's World Cup.
"Whenever we play Wales it's a tough game and they had a very successful Autumn with a number of good international games. We've had four excellent training weekends together and even though it was a tight time frame we feel we're well prepared," said the Bohs full back. "They are able to play a number of styles and whenever we meet them it's a different type of game."
The Ireland Captain, who was named in the World Cup All Star team at fly half, reverts back to fullback for the opener: "I played there during the World Cup as well and have become used to switching. I do enjoy playing fullback and I'm always happy playing outside Jo (O'Sullivan) so I'm looking forward to it."
"With Wales on a seven game winning streak in internationals, I find it hard to see Ireland ending that run. This is not to say Ireland won't challenge Wales but with the wealth of experience in their ranks and some exciting backs Wales should make it eight in a row. Wales to win by twelve points."
Wales Women: 15 Elen Evans, 14 Louise Rickard, 13 Rachel Poolman, 12 Clare Flowers, 11 Rhian Williams, 10 Naomi Thomas, 9 Mellissa Berry, 8 Kylie Wilson, 7 Jamie Kift, 6 Catrina Nicholas, 5 Claire Donovan, 4 Liza Burgess, 3 Jennifer Davies, 2 Rhian Bowden, 1 Louise Horgan
Replacements: 16 Amy Broadstock, 17 Hannah Roberts, 18 Nicola Evans, 19 Gemma Hallett, 20 Becky Davies, 21 Stacey Saunders, 22 Hayley Baxter
Ireland Women: 15 Sarahjane Belton, 14 Jeannette Feighery, 13 Lynne Cantwell, 12 Shannon Houston, 11 Grave Davitt, 10 Joanne O'Sullivan, 9 Tania Rosser, 8 Orla Brennan, 7 Rachel Boyd, 6 Eimear O'Sullivan, 5 Germaine Healy, 4 Caroline Mahon, 3 Marie Barrett, 2 Jess Limbert, 1 Fiona Coghlan
Replacements: 16 Yvonne Nolan, 17 Laura Guest, 18 Debbie Clarke, 19 Sinead Ryan, 20 Louise Beamish, 21 Mairead Kelly, 22 Amanda Greensmith
Saturday 3rd February 2007, 2.30pm - Taffs Well RFC
Marcus Leach (Rugby Writer) www.planet-rugby.com