Claire Molloy has returned to the Ireland squad for next month's rescheduled Women's Six Nations fixtures, providing head coach Adam Griggs with a boost heading into the back-to-back games against Italy and France.
The former Ireland captain, who last year took a sabbatical from international rugby to focus on her medical career, will link up with the squad for a two-day training camp at the IRFU High Performance Centre this weekend.
While the availability of the 69-time capped international is a fillip for Ireland ahead of a busy autumn schedule, the back row duo Edel McMahon and Claire McLaughlin and second row Aoife McDermott have been ruled out of the Women's Six Nations period through injury.
"It's brilliant to have Claire back in the squad," the New Zealander told RTÉ Sport in an interview that will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.
"I’ve been tracking her while she’s been playing with Wasps and she’s kept up her form and she’s more than welcome back in.
"Claire was available [for the original squad] but at the initial time we decided that we would stick with the squad we’d had for the first part of that Six Nations.
"We decided with the players in form in those three games we were going to stick with that.
"I spoke with Claire about performing with Wasps and seeing if she could put her hand up for selection for the qualifiers but now she is going to get her shot a bit earlier than expected.
"The one thing you can’t buy is experience and she hasn’t lost any of that. She’s been captain, she’s been in World Cups, big games.
"[She leads the team] through her actions more than her words and it’s going to be a huge benefit to have her in the group and there’s still competition there for her so it will be interesting to see how she goes through these training camps to put her hand up."
Griggs has named a 34-player squad ahead of the first two-day camp as Ireland build towards the conclusion of the 2020 championship and beyond to December's Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifiers.
"While it's an unfortunate setback and timing for Edel, Aoife and Claire, they are all highly motivated and diligent players who I know will get stuck into the rehab and get themselves back fit and in contention for the World Cup qualifiers," Griggs said.
"The squad have made major strides over the last year and there is healthy competition for places.
"Each two-day camp now gives us an opportunity to focus on lifting our intensity and the quality of our training, where we will challenge the players to replicate match-like demands, so that come the end of October we are ready to perform and keep the standards we set out at the start of this competition."
Ireland return to action against Italy before travelling to Lille to face France.
The qualifiers are scheduled to be played as a single round-robin tournament on the weekends from 5-19 December.
- Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
- Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/ Ulster)
- Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/ IQ Rugby)
- Aoife Doyle (Railway Union/ Munster)
- Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
- Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/ Leinster)
- Claire Keohane (Railway Union/ Munster)
- Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/ Leinster)
- Ellen Murphy (Blackrock College/Leinster)
- Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
- Beibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College/ Connacht)
- Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Shannon Touhey (Suttonians/ Connacht)
- Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
- Judy Bobbett (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
- Anna Caplice (Harlequins/ IQ Rugby)
- Ciara Cooney (Wasps / IQ Rugby)
- Victoria Dabanovich O'Mahony (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
- Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
- Laura Feely (Blackrock College/ Connacht)
- Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/ Connacht)
- Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster)*
- Leah Lyons (Harlequins/ IQ Rugby)
- Claire Molloy (Wasps / IQ Rugby)
- Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/ IQ Rugby)
- Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
- Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/ Leinster)
- Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
- Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/ Leinster)
- Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/ Munster).
- Ireland v Italy, Sunday 25 October, 1pm, Energia Park
- France v Ireland, Sunday, Sunday 1 November, 1.30pm Irish time, Le Stadium, Villeneuve d’Ascq