Wales face Ireland in an historic women’s international tomorrow, (Sunday) at Stadium ZipWorld, Colwyn Bay (kick off 2.30pm); the first women’s home encounter for the Welsh and an inaugural outing for the Irish.
Preceding that clash, the two nations will meet in a wheelchair international today at Glyndwr University in Wrexham (kick off 12.45pm), in a repeat of their recent clash in the Celtic Cup, which the Welsh retained for a fifth successive year.
Wales women include five new caps, and head coach Thomas Brindle commented: “We’re really excited for another historic occasion. We’ve learned a lot since our first outing, and know the areas that we need to work on. We know it’ll be competitive and that Ireland are working hard to establish themselves and that prospect is exciting for women’s international rugby league. A number of players, will be making their international debut, most of whom have come through the Cardiff Demons, which is great testament to the wider work which is being done across Wales at the moment.”
Inaugural Irish Women’s national head coach, John Whalley, said: “I’m looking forward to what promises to be an entertaining international match, I want to thank Wales for hosting us in our first-ever fixture. I am very grateful and excited to be part of history. This group has come together naturally over the past few months, with the help and vision of the RLI Board and assisted by Sport Ireland.”
His side includes Philippa Birchall who won the women’s Super League Grand Final with St Helens last weekend.
WALES WOMEN’S SQUAD : Ffion Jenkins*, Ffion Jones*, Sara Jones, Eleri Michael (Bridgend Blue Bulls/Cardiff Demons), Leanne Burnell, Seren Gough-Walters, Charlie Mundy, Rafiuke Taylor (Cardiff Blue Dragons/Cardiff Demons), Emily Hughes, Kathryn Salter (London Broncos), Bryonie King*, Ffion Lewis, Leanna Maybank*, Joeann McGuire, Lowri Norkett, Molly Reardon* (Rhondda Outlaws / Cardiff Demons), Rebecca Davies*, Keira McCosh (Warrington Wolves / North Wales Origin), Carys Marsh (Wigan Warriors)
* Denotes uncapped
IRELAND WOMEN’S SQUAD : Philippa Birchall (St Helens), Steph Carroll (Dublin City Exiles), Storm Cobain (Bedford Tigers), Erin Coll (Dublin City Exiles), Francessca Copley (Featherstone Rovers), Paige Costello (Wigan Warriors), Clodagh Dunne (Dublin City Exiles), Stacey Greenwood (Wigan Warriors), Stacy Hanley (Galway Tribeswomen), Bethany Lambert (York City Knights), Ray Lawless (Dublin City Exiles), Roisin Crowe (Dublin City Exiles), Sarah Lovejoy (Leigh Miners Rangers), Iona McCusker (London Broncos), Alex McGuinness (Dublin City Exiles), Amy O’Neill (Dublin City Exiles), Syphonia Pua (Dublin City Exiles), Mairead Quinn (Leigh Miners Rangers), Aimee Wood (Wigan Warriors).
For the wheelchair clash Wales head coach Stephen Jones noted: “I’ve named two captains for both this and the Scotland match later this month as we are using the games to trial players in roles that they wouldn’t normally fill. Harry Jones has acted as vice-captain and had a short stint as captain in the past, but I also wanted to see what Jodie Boyd-Ward could bring to the table especially with her knowledge and experience. After the disappointment of the World Cup being postponed and our less than stellar performance in the mid-season international against England, these games will allow us to press the reset button and come back stronger. With the new look Ireland and Scotland teams, these should be two hard-fought games.”
Jodie Boyd-Ward featured for Leeds Rhinos in their wheelchair Grand Final win recently to secure a treble for the club, whilst among the Ireland squad are Scott Robertson and Stephen Campbell from new clubs Newcastle and Sheffield.
Player/head coach of the Ireland wheelchair side, Damian McCabe said: “I am looking forward to the match against Wales as a measure of how we have progressed as a team since the Celtic Cup. We have had some training over the summer months and I am confident we can make this a competitive match.”
WALES WHEELCHAIR SQUAD : Alan Caron, Andrew Higgins, Martin Lane, Jamie Reynolds, Jason Reynolds (Hereford Harriers), Jodie Boyd-Ward (Leeds Rhinos), Harry Jones, Scott Trigg-Turner, Mark Williams (North Wales Crusaders), Lee Sargent (Torfaen Tigers)
IRELAND WHEELCHAIR SQUAD : Peter Johnston, Rick Rodgers (Argonaughts WRL), Tom Martin (Halifax WRL), Scott Robertson (Newcastle WRL), Stephen Campbell (Sheffield WRL) George Hill Mersey (Storm WRL), Darran Dowey (Tolffyn Tigers WRL) Toby Burton Carter (Warrington Wolves WRL), Damian McCabe (unattached)