Women's Six Nations: Ireland make three changes from France defeat for Italy game

Ireland wing Megan Williams tries to halt France's Coumba Diallo in last weekend's Six Nations
Ireland were outplayed by last year's World Cup semi-finalists in Toulouse
2018 Women's Six Nations: Ireland v Italy
Venue: Donnybrook, Dublin Date: Sunday, 11 February Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Sport website

Ireland coach Adam Griggs has made three changes from the opening 24-0 defeat by France for Sunday's Women's Six Nations game against Italy.

Paula Fitzpatrick and Nichola Fryday replace injured Ciara Cooney and Orla Fitzsimons in the second row.

In the other change, Katie Fitzhenry takes over from Ulster's Claire McLaughlin at centre.

Fitzhenry is drafted into the Ireland line-up after representing her country at last weekend's Sydney Sevens.

Fitzsimons and McLaughlin are named on the bench with uncapped duo Edel McMahon and Michelle Claffey drafted into the matchday squad along with Nicole Cronin as Mary Healy, Ulster's Nikki Caughey and Mairead Coyne drop out.

Lock Cooney will have no involvement in the Donnybrook contest after being carried off on a stretcher in Toulouse with a knee injury.

Griggs said the Toulouse defeat had been a "tough encounter".

"It's always hard to go to there and get a result and while we were disappointed in some aspects of our execution, there was plenty to learn from and build on for this week," the Ireland coach said.

"There were a number of new combinations and while that will take time to bed in we are focused on improving our performance for the first of three home games in Donnybrook."

Griggs was named head coach for this year's Six Nations after Tom Tierney stepped down following Ireland's disappointing World Cup performance as hosts.

The Irish Rugby Football Union's decision to advertise for a temporary, part-time successor to Tierney caused controversy in October.

Irish Rugby bosses later expressed "regret for any upset caused" and indicated the position could become full-time following the Six Nations.

Ireland: Kim Flood (Leinster); Megan Williams (Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Leinster), Alison Miller (Connacht); Niamh Briggs (Munster), Ailsa Hughes (Leinster); Lindsay Peat (Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Leinster), Fiona Reidy (Munster); Paula Fitzpatrick (Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Connacht); Anna Caplice (Munster), Claire Molloy (Connacht), Ciara Griffin (Munster) capt.

Replacements: Leah Lyons (Munster), Laura Feely (Connacht), Ciara O'Connor (Connacht), Orla Fitzsimons (Leinster), Edel McMahon (Connacht), Nicole Cronin (Munster), Michelle Claffey (Leinster), Claire McLaughlin (Ulster)

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