Ireland have suffered a blow ahead of the new season after former captain Claire Molloy's announcement that she will be taking a break from international rugby.

The Galway native, who skippered her country in 2017, says she is taking a "sabbatical from my beloved green jersey" in order to focus on her career in medicine.

A statement on her Twitter account reads: "Today is the beginning of a new chapter, time to focus on my other job, as an EM trainee for All Wales School of Emergency Medicine only, and take a sabbatical from my beloved green shirt.

"Wishing the Ireland girls the best of luck this year."

Molloy will be a huge loss for Ireland as they begin preparations for the upcoming Six Nations. She was named captain for the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup which took place in Ireland. 

The flanker, who has 69 caps for Ireland, joined Premiership side Wasps last September and has previously played for Bristol Ladies as well as Connacht.