Wales Women’s players are planning their own special tributes in memory of Elli Norkett when they face Ireland in their Six Nations clash on Saturday.
Norkett, the youngest player at the 2014 World Cup and one of the most talented backs in Wales, was tragically killed in a car crash last month.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Elli Norkett this week. RIP.February 28, 2017
The 20-year-old’s passing has left Rowland Phillips’ squad heartbroken as they prepare for their fourth game of the tournament.
“Everyone has felt the heartache we’ve been going through over the last couple of weeks, but I think it’s important we push on and do it for Elli,” said scrum-half Keira Bevan.
“It is going to be difficult, but we have spoken and we’re going to go out there and play for Elli.
“All of us are going to paint our nails the same colour as our boots because that’s something Elli did when she was playing.”
Motivated by grief, Wales are ready to take on an Irish side who are unbeaten and have grand designs on the championship title. Tom Tierney’s team are firm favourites, but they will underestimate a Welsh squad now tighter than ever following Norkett’s death at their peril.
“The shirts are being engraved for Elli and all the girls will have little things that will mean something to them,” said Wales backs coach Nick Wakley.
“The emotion the girls will get from thinking about Elli and the positive impact she had is something we can draw on. What we’re looking for is 80 minutes where the players are crawling off the field.
“If we do that then we’ll put Ireland in trouble.”
Wales have made seven changes from the side beaten by Scotland for what is going to be an emotional encounter.
Wakley added: “It’s going to be an emotionally charged weekend for the squad. The players have needed time to grieve. It’s been an intense atmosphere, but we’ve trained very well.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 4, 2017
Ireland team: Flood; Tyrrell, Murphy, Naoupu, Miller; Stapleton, Healy; Peat, Lyons, Egan, Spence, Reilly, Griffin, Molloy, Fitzpatrick (capt).
Replacements: O’Connor, Van Staden, O’Reilly, Cooney, Fryday, Muldoon, Caughey, Coyne.
Wales team: Hywel; Evans, Lake, De Filippo, Taviner; Wilkins, Bevan; Thomas, Phillips (capt), Evans, Rowe, Mel, Harries, Taylor, Powell-Hughes.
Replacements: Harries, Hale, Pyrs, Lillicrap, Butchers, Parker, Snowsill, Rowland.