New Ireland captain Nichola Fryday has says she is delighted to have been handed the "huge honour" of leading her country.

The Tullamore native, who made her debut against Canada six years ago and has won 22 caps to date, takes over from Ciara Griffin, who retired last year following the team's failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Ireland, under new head coach Greg McWilliams, begin their TikTok Six Nations campaign against Wales at the RDS on Saturday (4.45pm).

"It’s a mixture of everything," said the 26-year-old lock when asked about getting the nod.

"I found out last night that Greg included my parents [on the announcement remotely]. That was special to me.

"They’ve been behind me the whole way since I came into the set-up so it was really nice to have that aspect to it and it meant a lot to me and my family, it’s a huge honour.

"It’s what people dream of, getting to represent your country is amazing but then to captain your country, that’s such a huge honour and I’m very grateful. I’m excited to see where this group can go over the next few weeks."

In addition to Griffin’s absence, McWilliams lost the services of veterans Lindsay Peat and Claire Molloy through retirement, while the experienced trio of Sene Naoupu, Anna Caplice and Cliodhna Moloney missed out on selection.

"What you want from your leader, firstly, is someone who is smart, who understands the path you are travelling as a group but most importantly, if you look at Nichola’s DNA, she represents the entirety of the group," said McWilliams of his decision.

"She’s got great grit, good charisma, great heart. She really is to the forefront of what we are trying to build here.

"She was the obvious choice and the reaction by the entire squad just shows you why she was the right choice, why we are delighted to have her with us."

Fryday, who plays with Exeter Chiefs in England Premier 15s league, paid tribute to her mother club in Offaly.

"I owe a lot to my home club of Tullamore," she added.

"I started there in my second year in college and it was the girls and coaches there that instilled the love of rugby.

"If I’d gone into that session and they hadn’t been as welcoming or I hadn’t enjoyed it so much, maybe I wouldn’t have gone back to it.

"That’s the draw of rugby and what your local club brings, it’s that love for the game.

"They are still some of my closest friends even though I’ve moved on to a different club, they are still my number one supporters and the ones I always go back to when I am at home. They’ve definitely instilled the love of rugby into me."


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