Gray ready to up the ante against Ireland
RFUW
February 22, 2007

England and Wasps prop Vanessa Gray is ready to make her mark following her call-up to start England's RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland on Sunday at Limerick's Thomond Park, kick-off 2pm.

Since appearing in the 2006 IRB Rugby World Cup, which England narrowly lost 25-17 to New Zealand, Gray has had to watch her team-mates from the bench during their two RBS 6 Nations wins over Scotland and Italy. But on Monday the 35-year-old learned that she will start the game, being given the nod ahead of Clifton's Sophie Hemming.

Gray, who has 23 caps, said: "It's great to be starting for England again. I knew I just had to be patient and dig in with my training. It wasn't so much frustrating being on the bench but frustrating waiting to get on the pitch. It seemed like the first-half of both games were two hours long and I knew that I would only have a short period of time to make an impact and remind the coaches what I can do."

Although England and Ireland sit on opposite ends of the Six Nations table, with England leading the way, Gray is expecting Ireland to prove a serious challenge to the Grand Slam defending champions.

"Ireland in Ireland will be very tough," she added. "We are still a relatively new squad and we are still learning how each other play. It takes time to gel where as the Ireland squad hasn't changed much since the Rugby World Cup. They have been able to build over the last few games and are probably more than ready to takes us on up front and in the backs.

"Ireland played well in the Rugby World Cup and they have also been unlucky, I think, not to have won a game in the Six Nations. Certainly their results have been very close.

"This will also be our first away game of the RBS 6 Nations and it is going to be exciting to be playing away from home. As a squad I think we will be ready for anything that's thrown at us. We are all used to travelling and playing away and personally I think it makes it even more of an exciting challenge."

England Team

1 Vanessa Gray (Wasps)

2 Amy Garnett (Saracens)

3 Katy Storie (Blaydon)

4 Tamara Taylor (Thirsk)

5 Jo McGilchrist (Wasps)

6 Georgia Stevens (Clifton)

7 Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens) VC

8 Catherine Spencer (Worcester)

9 Amy Turner (Wasps)

10 Katy McLean (Thirsk)

11 Danielle Waterman (Clifton)

12 Rachel Burford (Saracens)

13 Claire Allan (Saracens)

14 Sue Day (Wasps) (C)

15 Charlotte Barras (Saracens)

Replacements:

16 Emma Layland (Richmond)

17 Sophie Hemming (Clifton)

18 Sarah Beale (Leos)

19 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)

20 Karen Andrew (Saracens)

21 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)

22 Amber Penrith (Cardiff Quins)

RBS Women's 6 Nations table


Country P W D L For Against Points

England 2 2 0 0 83 0 4

France 2 2 0 0 50 27 4

Wales 2 2 0 0 20 5 4

Ireland 2 0 0 2 15 23 0

Italy 2 0 0 2 17 60 0

Scotland 2 0 0 3 0 70 0


England's RBS 6 Nations fixtures & results:

England v Scotland, February 3rd, kick-off 230pm at Old Albanians RFC WON 60-0

England v Italy, February 10th, kick-off 415pm at Twickenham WON 23-0

Ireland v England, February 25th, kick-off 2pm at Thomond Park, Limerick

England v France, March 11th, kick-off 145pm at Old Albanians RFC

Wales v England, March 17th, kick-off 230pm at Taffs Wells, near Cardiff RFC

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