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IRFU to pull three key Ireland players from Six Nations to go on 7s duty

Tom Tierney’s side are set to lose Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrrell.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SIX Nations bid is set to be dented by the loss of three key players, who are being pulled from the competition to go on sevens duty.

The decision comes despite the fact that Ireland will host the 15-a-side Women’s Rugby World Cup later this year.

Sene Naoupu Sene Naoupu is set to be pulled from the 15s squad. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tom Tierney’s side are leading the Six Nations after two bonus-point wins in their two opening games, but The42 understands that they are now set to lose Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrrell ahead of this Sunday’s clash with France in Donnybrook [KO 12.45pm].

A strong Six Nations campaign in 2017 has been seen as an important part of Ireland’s bid to win the World Cup on home soil, meaning the decision to pull the trio has been poorly received in some quarters.

It’s believed there is anger within the 15-a-side squad at the decision, which leaves Ireland without some of their key backline talent ahead of the France fixture.

Experienced centre Naoupu is a vital player for Ireland thanks to her dynamic attacking skills and aggressive defensive leadership, while wing Miller has been in brilliant form again this season, scoring a try in the opening-round win over Scotland.

Alison Miller Ali Miller is always a huge threat with ball in hand. Source: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

Meanwhile, wing Tyrrell scored a sensational solo try in the last play of the win over Italy to ensure that Ireland earned a crucial try-scoring bonus point.

However, Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy has made a decision to withdraw the important trio from Ireland’s Six Nations campaign ahead of the next leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Las Vegas on 3 to 5 March.

The Irish sevens squad sits ninth out of 13 teams in the overall standings after two legs of the Series, but the IRFU are set to confirm that Naoupu, Miller and Tyrrell will miss out on the crucial Six Nations visit of France and instead travel to Las Vegas in two weekends’ time.

The three players are contracted to the IRFU’s women’s sevens programme, so they would have been aware of the possibility of being pulled from 15s duty in favour of the seven-player code, but it’s a hugely disappointing decision for 15s rugby nonetheless.

Hannah Tyrrell Tyrrell scored a stunning try against Italy to secure the bonus point. Source: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

Last year, the IRFU had understandably focused resources on the 7s game as they unsuccessfully chased qualification for the Rio Olympics, but it had been expected that 15s would be fully backed in 2017 with the home World Cup to come in August.

Though there is understandably frustration within the Ireland 15s’ ranks, it’s understood that the squad have only deepened their determination to succeed in the Six Nations after this lack of support from the union.

Eddy is set to speak to the media on Thursday, when the IRFU’s decision to pull Naoupu, Miller and Tyrrell from Six Nations duty is likely to be explained.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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