Marie Louise Reilly ready for charged occasion against Wales

Emotions will run high at the Cardiff Arms Park today as Wales’ women take to the field for the first time since the tragic passing of their teammate Elli Norkett late last month.
Marie Louise Reilly ready for charged occasion against Wales

The 20-year old was killed when her car crashed on a stretch of road between Banwen and Glynneath and her Welsh colleagues will remember her by wearing jerseys embroidered with her name and other small but symbolic gestures.

Ireland’s Marie Louise Reilly knows that it will make for a difficult day for the hosts.

“We have sent a message of support over to the Wales rugby union because rugby is a family at the end of the day,” said Reilly.

“It is something we need to acknowledge as players but we need to use it to be part of what can be a great match and a great atmosphere and hopefully something that can do her proud.”

Ireland have made the trip on the back of three wins in this Six Nations, despite a mixed bag in terms of performances, and the expectation is that a struggling Welsh side will be ultimately dealt with in the same manner as the Scots, the Italians and the French.

Ireland haven’t lost to the Welsh in a competitive game since 2011 when the hosts claimed a 15-14 win at Cross Keys RFC and Rowland Phillips’ side has shipped 63 unanswered points to England at home and also gone down as the first side to lose to Scotland in this tournament since 2010. The last time these two sides met was for a warm-up game in Dublin in January when the worth of a Welsh win was seriously compromised by the fact both were in experimental mode and Tom Tierney handed out green jerseys to 28 players.

The Irish continue to experiment with some individuals and units ahead of their hosting of the World Cup this summer but the side today boasts a more settled look, both in the pack and out back where Hannah Tyrrell, Alison Miller and Sene Naoupu return from Sevens duties.

“We’re just trying to concentrate on getting the basics right,” said Reilly. “In the November series and the warm-up match against Wales they were the things that let us down a small bit so we’re just getting back to concentrating on that skill base and growing that confidence.”

Do that and they should clear the path for a winner-takes-all Grand Slam tie with England.

“We haven’t even spoken about that,” according to Reilly. “The matches are coming so thick and fast and then we are training and during the week and working as well so it is fairly hectic. All we can do for now is focus on Wales and whatever happens after that happens.”

WALES WOMEN:

D Hywell E Evans, K Lake, R de Filippo, A Taviner; R Wilkins, K Bevan; C Thomas, C Phillips, A Evans; R Rowe, M Clay; S Harries, R Taylor, S Powell-Hughes.

IRELAND WOMEN:

K Flood; H Tyrrell, J Murphy, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, M Healy; L Peat, L Lyons, A Egan; S Spence; ML Reilly; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick.

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