Women's Rugby World Cup: Fit-again Niamh Briggs to captain hosts Ireland

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Ireland will 'embrace and cherish' home advantage - injured captain Briggs

Fit-again Niamh Briggs will captain hosts Ireland at next month's Women's World Cup.

Briggs missed the Six Nations because of a hamstring injury but is named in a squad that includes 12 players with previous World Cup experience.

Claire Molloy, Marie-Louise Reilly and Nora Stapleton will be playing in their third World Cup.

Scrum-half Nicole Cronin, who has played for the Ireland sevens team, is the only uncapped player in the squad.

Ulster and Cooke player Ashleigh Baxter (left)
Ulster and Cooke player Ashleigh Baxter (left) is named in the Ireland squad

Ulster duo Baxter and McLaughlin included

Ulster players Ashleigh Baxter and Claire McLaughlin are included while Stapleton is joined by fellow Donegal native Larissa Muldoon.

Molloy, Reilly, Stapleton, Ailis Egan, Heather O'Brien, Sophie Spence, Ashleigh Baxter, Paula Fitzpatrick, Alison Miller, Muldoon, Jenny Murphy and Briggs all featured at the 2014 tournament, when Ireland were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual champions England.

England also defeated Ireland in this year's Grand Slam decider in March.

Ireland coach Tom Tierney said the squad had been developed over the past three years with the World Cup in mind.

"As a result of the programme, many players have had the opportunity to prepare for this moment and play international rugby and show their skills at the highest level," said Tierney.

"We have named players who have been here before and are aware of the challenge that lies ahead.

"Then there are a number of players in the squad for whom this will be their first ever World Cup and I am extremely confident they will compete for starting positions throughout the campaign."

Ireland to face Australia, Japan and France

Ireland will take on Australia, Japan and France in their World Cup pool with only the winners guaranteed a semi-final place.

The three pool winners will be joined by the best second-placed team in the semi-finals at Kingspan Stadium with the final also taking place at the Ravenhill venue.

"The opportunity to play in a World Cup on home soil is a once in a life time opportunity," added the Ireland coach.

"While we are in a tough pool with Australia, Japan and our Six Nations rivals France, I am sure the players will rise to the occasion in front of their home fans."

Ireland women's World Cup squad

Forwards: Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemian/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's College RFC/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/Munster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Heather O'Brien (Highfield/Munster), Ciara O'Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

Backs: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian/Munster) capt, Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian/Munster), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Harlequins FC), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

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