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Wales select six Bears to face Italy

Six Bristol Bears Women have been named in the Wales Women squad to face Italy in the final round of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

Kelsey Jones, Cara Hope and Niamh Terry make their first starts of the season – at hooker, loosehead prop and full-back respectively; Alex Callender and Sioned Harries return to the starting line-up in the back row alongside Alisha Butchers with captain Siwan Lillicrap joining Gwen Crabb in the second row and Donna Rose returns at tighthead. Behind the scrum, Ffion Lewis and Kerin Lake return to the starting line-up at scrum-half and inside centre, Robyn Wilkins moving back to outside-half to renew the half-back partnership that started against England.

Head coach Ioan Cunningham said: “Consistency of selection has been important to us as a new management group this season. It’s been important to build cohesion while trying various combinations and starting line-ups. However, there are players who deserve the opportunity to either start this final match or feature in the 23 having performed well in training throughout.

“It’s great to see Kelsey (Jones) returning to the starting line-up after a long-term injury, along with Caryl Thomas on the bench. Niamh (Terry) deserves to show what she can do at full-back and it’s good to see Cara Hope getting a first start of the season too. Sioned Harries has made a big impact each time she has been involved and forms part of a very strong backrow on Saturday. Ffion Lewis made an impact again coming off the bench against France and it’s exciting to see her and Robyn together again.

“Equally, we wouldn’t be where we are now without the contribution of the whole training squad and I’m confident that every player, even if they haven’t featured in a matchday, will leave camp having gained an invaluable amount of experience and gained knowledge of what it takes to be part of an international set-up, along with improving their skills, strength and game understanding. As we head towards the Rugby World Cup selection, every player should know what they need to work on in order to put their hands up for inclusion in that journey.

“We know it’s going to be a really tough day at the office on Saturday. Italy are a quality team and we need to be 100% ready mentally as well as physically.

“We want to finish with three wins, that is what this group deserves having worked so hard all season.

“We would love to have the support of a big crowd again, having support back at the Arms Park has been huge this season.”

Wales team vs Italy Saturday 30 April 12 noon Cardiff Arms Park:

15 Niamh Terry (Exeter Chiefs)
14 Lisa Neumann (Gloucester-Hartpury)
13 Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury)
12 Kerin Lake (Gloucester-Hartpury)
11 Jasmine Joyce (Bristol Bears)
10 Robyn Wilkins (Gloucester-Hartpury)
9 Ffion Lewis (Worcester Warriors)
1 Cara Hope (Gloucester-Hartpury)
2 Kelsey Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury
3 Donna Rose (Saracens)
4 Siwan Lillicrap (capt, Bristol Bears)
5 Gwen Crabb (Gloucester-Hartpury)
6 Alisha Butchers (Bristol Bears)
7 Alex Callender (Worcester Warriors)
8 Sioned Harries (Worcester Warriors)

Replacements:
16 Carys Phillips (Worcester Warriors)
17 Caryl Thomas (Worcester Warriors)
18 Cerys Hale (Gloucester-Hartpury)
19 Natalia John (Bristol Bears)
20 Bethan Lewis (Gloucester-Hartpury)
21 Keira Bevan (Bristol Bears)
22 Lleucu George (Gloucester-Hartpury)
23 Kayleigh Powell (Bristol Bears)


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