Four Valkyries in Wales squad for Six Nations opener

Four Valkyries players have been included in Wales Women’s squad for the Six Nations opener against France in Montpellier on Saturday (8pm GMT).

Wing Jasmine Joyce and blindside flanker Alisha Butchers will both start against France with flanker Alex Callender and scrum-half Ffion Lewis among the replacements.

Callender, a sevens international, will make her full debut if she comes off the bench in Montpellier.
All four have joined Valkyries in recent weeks as Director of Rugby Roy Davies continues to strengthen his Tyrrells Premier 15s squad.

A fifth Valkyries player, back row forward Sioned Harries, was included in Wales’ Six Nations squad but has now undergone surgery on an ankle injury which she sustained in a friendly against Ireland in Dublin two weeks ago. Beth Lewis takes Harries’ place against France.

“Physicality will be key against France on Saturday,” said Wales Head Coach Rowland Phillips.

“That is their strength and they will come out flying. That is an area we have been working on. We’ve prepared for it and now we need to keep our focus from minutes one to 80. Not only do we need to stand up to the physical challenge France will bring but we need to impose our own tempo on the game too.

“Playing France away from home is the only place you’ll experience such a cauldron in terms of the huge crowd and welcome and that’s something the players must embrace and feed off. France are the envy of the women’s rugby world at the moment and our players will certainly gain from the experience.”

Wales Women

15 Lauren Smyth (Ospreys)
14 Jasmine Joyce (Valkyries)
13 Hannah Jones (Scarlets)
12 Alicia McComish (Dragons)
11 Lisa Neumann (RGC)
10 Robyn Wilkins (Blues)
9  Keira Bevan (Ospreys)
1 Caryl Thomas (Dragons)
2 Carys Phillips (Ospreys) (C)
3 Amy Evans (Ospreys)
4 Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
5 Mel Clay (Ospreys)
6 Alisha Butchers (Valkyries)
7 Manon Johnes (Blues)
8 Bethan Lewis (Dragons)

16 Kelsey Jones (Ospreys)
17 Cara Hope (Ospreys)
18 Cerys Hale (Dragons)
19 Natalia John (Ospreys)
20 Alex Callender (Valkyries)
21 Ffion Lewis (Valkyries)
Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears)
23 Jess Kavanagh (RGC)