Ireland's tour of Japan marks a "fresh start" for the Irish women's rugby team, according to captain Nichola Fryday.

Greg McWilliams side take on the world number 13 side Japan tomorrow in Shizuoka, in the first of two games on their maiden summer tour.

It's just under 11 months since Irish women's rugby's most chastening defeat, when their hopes of qualification for the World Cup were ended by Scotland in Parma, Chloe Rollie's converted try in the 82nd minute of that game knocking the first domino.

It's taken nearly a year to gather up those pieces.

In the weeks and months that followed, the landscape for the Irish team changed dramatically; head coach Adam Griggs resigned, to be replaced by Greg McWilliams. Captain Ciara Griffin retired, as did long-serving greats like Lindsay Peat and Claire Molloy.

Hooker Cliodhna Moloney stuck her head above the parapet and called out the IRFU, and has found herself cast aside. Form is the official line.

The Six Nations began hot off the heels of the independent report into Ireland's World Cup humiliation, a report which led to the resignation of the Sevens and Women's rugby head Anthony Eddy, the appointment of a specific women's rugby director Gillian McDarby, and the prospect of turning Ireland's amateur XV-a-side players into professional athletes.

Finally, it seems, events on the pitch can be the talking point, rather than failures off it.

The new journey, to England and the World Cup in 2025, begins at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka tomorrow morning (11am Irish time).

Ireland were 15-12 winners when the sides met in November

"We're looking at this as our fresh start," says captain Nichola Fryday from the team base in Hamamatsu.

"I suppose we're in a different scenario to other teams, everyone else is trying to prep for a World Cup, but we're looking at the start of our cycle again now.

"We just started, and this is the most time we've had together as a team, which is starting to stand to us. We've been in camp for nearly two weeks, and still a a week to go."

With a new start comes new faces, and in the first eight months under Greg McWilliams there have been plenty.

The XVs team continue to come out second best in the tug of war with Sevens, and as a result the head coach has had to constantly rotate his team. Seven players made their Test debuts across the recent Six Nations campaign, while six more are in line to earn their first caps tomorrow in Japan.

Of the six, four are in the starting team, and all of them in the backline, with out-half Dannah O'Brien and centre Aoife Dalton just a couple of weeks removed from their Leaving Cert.

"You can't underestimate the players in our squad. We have seriously talented players, like the younger girls coming through have shown what kind of flair they have. And then you have the likes of Sam [Monaghan] and Linda [Djougang] who thrive off unstructured play. That's their game as well."

Experience is likely to be the biggest task facing Ireland against the Sakura Fifteen, and Fryday says it's the responsibility of the more experienced forwards to give O'Brien, Dalton and the rest of the backline clean, efficient service.

"It's something us as a pack have recognised, we're the more senior players in the team at the moment, and we want to be able to push on in terms of our development.

"We want to be pushing ourselves on to make sure we're delivering the best ball to them. Around the pitch, we want to be helping those younger players as much as we can, just setting up and getting ourselves into position earlier, so they're not thinking about where we have to be, they can just focus on themselves.

"I think it's hugely exciting for them, and I'm delighted for them, but we're all just focusing on being the best teammate for each other that we can be," the captain explained.

Lesley McKenzie's Japan come into the game after sharing a recent series with South Africa 1-1, while they were beaten 15-12 by Ireland when the sides last met in Dublin in November.

The hosts are expected to play expansively and with tempo, but Fryday believes they have the players and the fitness to deal with it, even accounting for the 30C heat and humidity of Shizuoka.

"You can't underestimate the players in our squad. We have seriously talented players, like the younger girls coming through have shown what kind of flair they have. And then you have the likes of Sam [Monaghan] and Linda [Djougang] who thrive off unstructured play. That's their game as well.

"I think it will make for a very interesting match, because while the Japanese might be looking to play a fast, unstructured game, we can keep up with that as well, because a bit of that is in us too. I think it will make for a good game.

"Tuesday and Wednesday were the toughest sessions I probably ever had in terms of the rugby we played, and the heat, but it's been the most rewarding week. Everything is starting to come together in terms of plays, and the new girls in the squad have taken to it. You couldn't have asked for more from them.

"They've come in and just thrown themselves in head first to try and absorb and take in as much as they can. It's stood to them, because there's a lot of them in the starting squad and on the bench. It shows if you come in and fully immerse yourself in the squad and work hard you will get your reward," she added.

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