The Wales Women squad heads to Dublin this weekend to play Ireland Women in a warm-up fixture ahead of the forthcoming Women’s Six Nations.
Head coach Rowland Phillips wants to build on the momentum of the successful autumn campaign and test out certain areas of the game the squad has been working on to make further progress in the Six Nations.
The side recorded impressive wins in November over South Africa (19-5) and Hong Kong (65-0) and despite losing 21-38 against Canada, produced a much improved performance against the world No 3 side compared to their two world cup encounters two years ago.
Wales Women open their Six Nations campaign away to France in front of a large Montpellier crowd in two weeks and Rowland Phillips is keen to add a winning mentality to the development of the group.
“Sunday’s match is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the tempo of international rugby ahead of the Six Nations, and test the areas we’ve been working on under the pressure of an international environment.
“We were very pleased with how the autumn campaign panned out, both in terms of the performances and the culture of the group. We saw an improvement throughout November leading to our final game against Canada, one of the best sides in the world.
“We learned some important lessons – we struggled in the last quarter of that final game and that experience has shaped our determination to make further progress.
“Our constant theme now is to continue to build towards the next World Cup with a young and energised squad, but one which, come 2021 will have a lot of international experience under its belt.
“We had three teenagers in the autumn squad who were all there on merit and we have kept faith with the majority of our group, only adding two new players – Elinor Snowsill and Molly Kelly.
“Playing France away will be a huge experience for our players in front of a very large crowd. However, the young generation of players aren’t overawed with reputations or big games – they just want to play. Italy will also be a challenge away from home but a great way to build towards welcoming England to the Arms Park for our first home game of the campaign.
We have spent time reshaping our game plan and building our squad, now we need to up our game and improve our performance levels – and results too.”
Tickets for Wales Women v England (Sunday 24 Feb 12.30pm) and Ireland (Sunday 17 March 1.30pm) are on sale now from Cardiff Blues box office online and to personal callers (CLICK HERE).
Wales Women squad for Ireland warm-up match (Energia Park, Donnybrook, Sunday 20 Jan, 1pm):
Alex Callender (Scarlets/ Worcester Vakyries)
Mel Clay (Ospreys/ Pontyclun)
Cerys Hale (Dragons / Worcester)
Cara Hope (Ospreys/ Swansea)
Kelsey Jones (Ospreys/ Gloucester Hartpury)
Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues/ Cardiff Quins)
Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys/ Swansea)
Carys Phillips (Ospreys/ Swansea)
Amy Evans (Ospreys/ Swansea)
Caryl Thomas (Dragons / Bristol Bears)
Bethan Lewis (Dragons / Gloucester Hartpury)
Sioned Harries (Scarlets/ Worcester)
Ffion Lewis (Scarlets/ Worcester Valkyries)
Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues)
Jess Kavanagh (RGC / Caernarfon)
Lleucu George (Scarlets / Whitland)
Hannah Jones (Scarlets / Gloucester)
Lisa Neumann (RGC/ Firwood Waterloo)
Caitlin Lewis (Scarlets)
Alisha Butchers (Scarlets/ Worcester)
Keira Bevan (Ospreys / Swansea)
Elinor Snowsill (Dragons/ Bristol Bears)
Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets / Worcester)
Lauren Smyth (Ospreys)