Sunday 11 December 2016

Tierney using Series to simulate World Cup conditions

Tom Rooney

Published 18/11/2016 | 02:30

Ireland Women's Head Coach Tom Tierney. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ireland Women's Head Coach Tom Tierney. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The Ireland Women's team may well be in the midst of an extremely difficult first ever November Series, but head coach Tom Tierney already has one eye firmly fixed on next year's World Cup.

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In nine months' time, Ireland will not only be hosting the Women's Rugby World Cup, but also looking to better their fourth-place finish in the competition two years ago.

To that end, Tom Tierney has decided to use these inaugural autumn Tests as a means of blooding new talent and ensuring all likely squad members are perfectly aware of their roles within the group.

Last week's 12-10 loss to world champions England at the UCD Bowl saw Connacht centre Nicole Fowley make her Test debut, and the Galwegians' midfielder has retained her place in the starting XV to face Canada tomorrow in the same venue (KO 2pm).

Canada may be ranked third in the world, but Tierney has opted to give international debuts to second row Nichola Fryday and openside Anna Caplice.

They are just two of 10 changes from the England defeat as Tierney seeks to boost his options for what promises to be hugely significant 2017.

Nicole Fowley made her Ireland debut against England last weekend. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Nicole Fowley made her Ireland debut against England last weekend. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

And, if all goes according to plan, Tierney could make a similar number of alternations to the side that faces New Zealand next week. "We've trying to simulate over these three games the same way it's going to be in a World Cup," he said.

"Everyone knows what's expected of them and after that it's about putting a team on the field. There are a lot of personnel changes (for Canada) but within the camp it's just another team going out on the field."

Tierney expects a bruising encounter with the Canadians, who in No 8 and captain Kelly Russell and openside Karen Paquin, boast a pair of bronze medallists from the 7s tournament at the Rio Olympics.

"Canada will bring intensity at the breakdown, a desire to use the full width of the field and will also be very physical at the tackle area.

"It's a very big test this weekend but that's what we're looking for, so that we can plan accordingly going into the new year.

"There was a plan in place when we knew about the November Series, because we knew it would be great to test ourselves against arguably three of the four best teams in the world."

Irish Independent

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