Ireland coach Adam Griggs has made four changes to his side for the Rugby World Cup 2021 qualifier showdown against Italy in Parma on Sunday afternoon.

Laura Feely, Sam Monaghan, Edel McMahon and Eve Higgins all start as Ireland bid to bounce back from the defeat to Spain at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Monday.

The table toppers in the four-team event will secure a spot in next year's finals, while the runners-up advance to a qualifying tournament.

Higgins returns to the Ireland midfield alongside Sene Naoupu, restoring their partnership from the Six Nations in the only change to the backline from last weekend, with Eimear Considine, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Beibhinn Parsons continuing in an unchanged back three.

Kathryn Dane and Stacey Flood are named at scrum-half and out-half once again, with Feely coming into the Ireland front row alongside Linda Djougang and Cliodhna Moloney for her 21st cap.

Having made her debut off the bench in against Spain, Monaghan is set for her first Test start in the second row alongside Nichola Fryday, while McMahon's inclusion in the back row sees Griffin revert back to number eight, with Dorothy Wall continuing at blindside flanker.

Neve Jones, Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons, Brittany Hogan and Claire Molloy are named on the bench, while Emily Lane, Enya Breen and Lauren Delany once again provide Griggs with the backline cover.

Commenting ahead of the game, Griggs said: "After a difficult result last weekend, we have collectively put the head down this week, conducted honest reviews and identified the areas we need to improve.

"We have implemented and executed those improvements in training and that gives us confidence going into Sunday.

"Italy will present a challenge, particularly with a home crowd behind them, but we are familiar with their threats and have left no stone unturned in our preparations for this game."

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