O'Brien to face Australia in Ireland's first World Cup game


The opening game sees current champions England take on Spain at the UCD Bowl at 2pm on Wednesday.

If England sent out a message by thrashing Spain in a 10-try 56-5 romp to raise the curtain on the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, their captain, Sarah Hunter, had an ominous warning for the other 11 nations at this year's global gathering in Ireland.

Emily Scarratt, a World Cup victor in 2014, is set to make her 70th appearance for the Red Roses off the bench, while number eight Sarah Hunter will captain the side.

Italy and the United States complete England's pool, and they should get off to a flying start at Dublin's UCD Bowl.

Cleall, who also played for Wimborne, is one of 12 players who are set to make their World Cup debuts.

England team to face Spain: Danielle Waterman; Lydia Thompson, Megan Jones, Rachael Burford, Kay Wilson; Katy Mclean, Leanne Riley; Vickii Cornborough, Heather Kerr, Sarah Bern, Abbie Scott, Zoe Aldcroft, Harriet Millar-Mills, Izzy Noel-Smith, Sarah Hunter (capt).

Waterman, who was born in Taunton and raised in Minehead, started at full-back, which meant she was appearing at her fourth World Cup.

"Growing up in Galway, we would see the Sam Maguire, but now they can see the World Cup trophy".

England women's head coach Middleton said: "We are really happy with the way our tournament preparations have gone and the squad have worked really hard over the past number of months".

"Now it's about translating that hard work and preparation and delivering performance on the pitch". (The tournament runs on a four-year cycle but has been brought forward a year to avoid clashing with the Sevens World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2018).