Ireland Women v Wales Women
Saturday 2nd Feb (kick off 7pm)Thomond Park, Limerick
Wales will be keen to build on their impressive autumn performances against both Canada and the USA in Limerick where only a victory will be good enough for coaches John Williams and Tony Robbins.
Having lost Captain Rhian Williams for both the Six Nations and World Cup with a broken fibia, flanker Melissa Berry wears the armband for the first time. Berry, only 20 years of age, hails from Swansea and is currently a student at St. Marys College in Twickenham.
Not only does Berry have the captaincy to contend with, she also finds herself reverting back to her old position of inside centre as the coaches attempt to fill the hole left by injured captain Williams. Kylie Wilson from Bangor is promoted from the replacement bench to take Berry's position on the flank.
Sue Grainger keeps her position in the second row despite the return to fitness of Clare Donovan and Ronnie Owens wins the battle for the No 9 shirt with Kerry Jenkins on the bench and last season's first choice, Cath Walkley, finds herself relegated to the 'A' team.
Louise Rickard and Sue Jones swap places with Rickard, winning her 50th cap, back in her preferred position of outside centre. Naomi Thomas makes her Six Nations debut as a full back having previously starred on the wing, a change which does not worry Director of Rugby Richard Hodges:
" Naomi has impressed in training and deserves her opportunity in the 15 shirt. She represents the future of this team along with the likes of Melissa Berry and Awen Thomas and they must be thrown in now if they are to gain the experience necessary to succeed in the World Cup."
Coach Williams is aware of how important victory is: " We must win on Saturday. Ireland have improved but we target this as a must win game so we are ready for the French in Bridgend on February 15th. We beat the Irish 15-10 last season and they will fancy their chances but if we build on our performances in the autumn we should return victorious."
15 NAOMI THOMAS14 CLAIRE FLOWERS 13 LOUISE RICKARD12 MELISSA BERRY (CAPT) 11 SUE JONES 10 AWEN THOMAS 9 RONNIE OWENS
1 DAWN MASON 2 JAMIE KIFT 3 KATH LENAGHAN 4 SUE GRAINGER 5 LIZA BURGESS 6 KYLIE WILSON 7 PIP MINTO 8 APRIL DENT
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.