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Ulster forward Hogan set to make first Ireland start in Six Nations play-off with Italy

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Ulster's Brittany Hogan

Ulster's Brittany Hogan

Ulster's Brittany Hogan

Ulster forward Brittany Hogan will make her first Ireland start after being named in the team to face Italy in Saturday's third-placed play-off at Energia Park.

Hogan, who was named as replacement second-row for the opening two games of the tournament, is brought in at openside flanker for her first start in an Ireland jersey.

A former Sevens player, Hogan has burst onto the international scene when she made her debut off the bench against Italy in last year's Six Nations, and she retained her place in the squad for this year.

And now she will get the chance to make an impact from the start when she lines out in the No.7 jersey in Dublin alongside the impressive Dorothy Wall and captain Ciara Griffin.

Hogan will be joined in the starting line-up by Ulster team-mate Kathryn Dane, who is retained at fly-half, while hooker Neve Jones is recalled to the bench after missing last week's defeat to France.

There are also first starts for Sevens stars Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Stacey Flood, while uncapped flanker Grace Moore could make her first international appearance.

Murphy Crowe starts on the wing, while Flood is introduced at fly-half, where she will be partnered by Dane, after coming off the bench against both Wales and France.

Eimear Considine starts at full-back again, while wing sensation Beibhinn Parsons is also retained, with the centre pairing of Sene Naoupu and Eve Higgins unchanged from last week.

The only change to the forward pack is Hogan, meaning the tight five of Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Linda Djougang in the front row and the second row pairing of Aoife McDermott and Nichola Fryday is unchanged.

In the replacements, Jones and Leah Lyons are introduced as front row cover alongside Laura Feely, with potential debutant Moore and Hannah O’Connor the other forward options.

Backs Emily Lane, Hannah Tyrell and Enya Breen complete the squad.

“This week our focus has been on us and the quality of performance we know we can deliver," said Ireland head coach Adam Griggs.

"We learned some valuable lessons last weekend and we now have the opportunity to rectify some of the areas that we need to show more accuracy, and we want to finish this competition strongly which we are extremely excited about.”

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Ireland team to play Italy

15. Eimear Considine (Munster); 14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Munster), 13. Eve Higgins (Leinster), 12. Sene Naoupu (Leinster), 11. Beibhinn Parsons (Connacht); 10. Stacey Flood (Leinster), 9. Kathryn Dane (Ulster); 1. Lindsay Peat (Leinster), 2. Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps), 3. Linda Djougang (Leinster); 4. Aoife McDermott (Leinster), 5. Nichola Fryday (Connacht); 6. Dorothy Wall (Munster), 7. Brittany Hogan (Ulster), 8. Ciara Griffin (captain, Munster).

Replacements: 16. Neve Jones (Ulster), 17. Laura Feely (Connacht), 18. Leah Lyons (Harlequins), 19. Grace Moore (Railway Union), 20. Hannah O'Connor (Leinster), 21. Emily Lane (Munster), 22. Hannah Tyrrell (Leinster), 23. Enya Breen (Munster).

Italy

15. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; 14. Manuela Furlan (captain), 13. Michela Sillari, 12. Beatrice Rigoni, 11. Maria Magatti; 10. Veronica Madia, 9. Sara Barattin; 1. Erika Skofca, 2. Melissa Bettoni, 3. Lucia Gai; 4. Valeria Fedrighi, 5. Giordana Duca; 6. Ilaria Arrighetti, 7. Francesca Sgorbini, 8. Elisa Giordano.

Replacements: 16. Lucia Cammarano, 17. Gaia Maris, 18. Michela Merlo, 19. Sara Tounesi, 20. Isabella Locatelli, 21. Beatrice Veronese, 22. Sofia Stefan, 23. Aura Muzzo.


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