Ireland women's rugby: Fit-again Niamh Briggs returns for New Zealand contest

Niamh Briggs
Niamh Briggs missed the narrow defeat by England two weeks ago and last weekend's hammering by Canada
Women's November Series: Ireland v New Zealand
Venue: UCD Bowl, Dublin Date: Sunday, 27 November Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Match report on BBC Sport website

Full-back and captain Niamh Briggs returns to an Ireland team that shows 11 changes from the hammering by Canada for Sunday's game against New Zealand.

Nicole Fowley, Sene Naoupu, Mairead Coyne and Paula Fitzpatrick are the only players to retain starting places.

Ulster's Claire McLaughlin starts with Donegal duo Larissa Muldoon and Nora Stapleton named at half-back as Coyne switches to wing to accommodate Briggs.

The pack reverts to the eight that started against England two weeks ago.

Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Ailis Egan form the front row with Marie-Louise Reilly and Orla Fitzsimons resuming their second-row partnership.

Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin and Fitzpatrick form the back-row as Ireland head into the game hoping to repeat their surprise 2014 World Cup victory over the then champions.

Ireland coach Tom Tierney said last weekend's 48-7 thumping by the 2014 World Cup finalists was "an important learning experience" for his side.

However, it may not get any easier for the Irish this week as they face a Black Ferns outfit that defeated Canada 20-10 at Donnybrook on Wednesday to emphasise their world number one ranking.

"We will again have some new combinations to look at on Sunday," added Tierney

"We've seen how New Zealand played over the last two weeks in their games against England and Canada so we are aware of the challenge that they will present us in UCD."

Briggs is available again after missing the defeats by England and Canada because of a hamstring injury.

Ireland (v New Zealand): Niamh Briggs; M Coyne, N Fowley, S Naoupu, C McLaughlin; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; ML Reilly, O Fitzsimons; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick

Replacements: L Lyons, F Hayes, F Reidy, N Fryday, C Cooney, M Healy, J Shiels, N Kavanagh.

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