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From youth to experience: 5 women who will be key to Ireland’s Six Nations chances

Ireland’s Women kick off their campaign away to Scotland on Friday evening.

WITH A HOME World Cup to work towards in August, Ireland are hoping for a successful Six Nations campaign to open their year.

Kicking off against Scotland on Friday evening, Tom Tierney’s side are seeking redemption after having their 2015 title stolen by France last year.

With a few fresh faces and a nice blend of youth and experience in the squad, Ireland will be hoping to make their mark and gain further experience and confidence before welcoming the world in August.

Here are five players that will be key to their chances.

Claire Molloy (Bristol / Connacht)

Ireland’s Claire Molloy Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

An integral member of the 2015 Six Nations-winning campaign, Galway native Molloy will be key if Ireland are to succeed again this year.

The flanker has no shortage of international experience, from representing her country at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France to standing out in last year’s disappointing November Test series — especially against the All Blacks.

Her strengths are mainly winning turnovers and breaking down attacks, and having scored a try in the warm-up defeat against Wales, she’ll be hoping to get on the mark again on Friday and throughout the campaign.

Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere / Leinster)

Nora Stapleton Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Last weekend, Stapleton was crowned Donegal Rugby Sports Star of the Year and deservedly so. The experience of the Old Belvedere and Leinster out-half will be vital for Ireland throughout the campaign, in this her seventh Six Nations.

Stapleton was a member of the Ireland squad that won the Grand Slam in 2013 and picked up her second Six Nations medal in 2015. She was also there wearing the number 10 jersey when Ireland historically beat the All Blacks at the 2014 World Cup.

A brilliant kicker and try-scorer, she’ll definitely be key to Ireland’s chances.

Alison Miller (Old Belvedere / Connacht)

Alison Miller tackled by Jodie Evans Source: Paul Walsh/INPHO

Another key member of the side, and a latecomer to rugby, Miller has been pivotal to the Irish Women’s team’s various successes in recent years.

The Connacht wing was sensational in their 2015 Six Nations winning campaign, a consistent performer and try-scorer.

She’s also hugely influential for the national 7s squad and not just renowned for crossing the whitewash, she’s a pretty impressive tackler too.

Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians / Munster)

Ciara Griffin scores their third try Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

UL Bohemians’ flanker Griffin interestingly scored her first international try in last year’s tie with Scotland, weeks after her Ireland debut against Wales.

The 22-year-old had an impressive breakthrough international season, her power and strength in particular catching the eye.

She progressed straight off the underage scene to the Munster senior panel, an achievement in itself, and has starred ever since. Griffin also formerly played her club rugby with Tralee RFC.

Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)

Sene Naoupu Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sene Naoupu, wife of ex-Connacht number eight George, was a new face to the Ireland squad ahead of last year’s Six Nations, but since then she’s been a regular in the green jersey.

The New Zealand-born centre starred for Ireland in the November Tests, equally at ease whether making attacking runs or pulling off impressive tackles in defence.

Last year’s Women’s Player of the Year also stars for the 7s side and gives the same amount of energy every time she graces the pitch.

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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