Women's Six Nations: Niamh Briggs named Ireland captain

Niamh Briggs
Niamh Briggs helped Ireland stun defending champions New Zealand at last year's Women's World Cup

Niamh Briggs has been named Ireland captain for this year's Women's Six Nations Championship.

The county Waterford native takes over as skipper following the retirement of previous captain Fiona Coghlan.

Full-back Briggs, 30, made her Ireland debut against Italy in 2008 and has been capped 45 times.

"To follow in the footsteps of an unbelievable leader in Fiona Coghlan is a fantastic honour. I was delighted to be asked," she said.

"It's a massive privilege to represent your country at any level but to captain your country is a great honour."

Briggs helped Ireland win the country's first women's Six Nations title as they secured a Grand Slam in 2013.

She then played a pivotal role in Ireland's World Cup campaign last summer, when they shocked defending champions New Zealand before losing to eventual winners England in the semi-finals.

Ireland, under the guidance of IRFU's women's director Anthony Eddy and new coach Tom Tierney following the departure of Philip Doyle, open the Six Nations in Italy on Friday, 6 February.

The Irish squad includes 12 new caps following the retirements of several players, including Coghlan, Lynne Cantwell, Grace Davitt, Siobhan Fleming and Laura Guest.

In addition, Sharon Lynch, Ashleigh Baxter and Niamh Kavanagh are unavailable because of injury.