Sam Monaghan. Ben Brady/INPHO

Sam Monaghan fit to face Italy as Ireland report clean bill of health

Scott Bemand’s side host Italy at the RDS on Sunday.

SECOND ROW SAM Monaghan has been passed fit to play in Ireland’s Women’s Six Nations match with Italy this weekend, in a significant boost for Scott Besmand’s side.

Monaghan missed the opening round defeat to France but is available for selection for Sunday’s home clash with Italy at the RDS [KO 3pm, RTÉ].

The lock was ruled out of the French game after suffering a head injury while on club duty with Gloucester-Hartpury, but has now come through her return to play protocols.

The influential lock is likely to come straight back into the team to win her 19th cap as Bemand’s team target a big performance in their first home game of the campaign, with Ireland now heading into the fixture with a clean bill of health.

“Sam’s good to go,” said assistant coach Declan Danaher.

She’s passed all her relevant protocols she’s needed to do, she’s training and is good to be working with her. She’s an important part of our team in terms of lineout, so she’s good to go.

“In terms of other people, Ruth Campbell will be out for a couple of weeks, she’s done something to her wrist, so she’s probably the only member of the squad who’s not available.

“Off the back of the weekend, a pretty physical encounter that the girls were all battered and bruised, but they’re all good to go.”

Ireland fell to a 38-17 defeat in Le Mans but took plenty of heart from the performance, with their defensive work and physicality notably improved from last year, where Ireland conceded 31 tries across the championship and scored only three as they lost all five games.

It’s early days yet under Bemand and his new coaching team but Ireland feel they are tracking in the right direction ahead of Sunday’s meeting with an Italian team who are recovering from a 48-0 loss to England last weekend.

“The positives are for me, the effort and workrate and the intent we showed [against France],” Danaher said.

“Then from a review point of view, we’ve had a good look at ourselves, what we can control better, and we spoke with the girls around things like stopping driving tries, not allowing teams get that field position, but also little things around system; when you come under pressure where you’re meant to be, what you can do to stop it.

“There’s been come good discussions with forwards and backs but that would be one area we can challenge ourselves to be better.

“Italy are going to come with a drive as well, so we have to be ready for that.”

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