Thursday 21 September 2017

Fit-again Briggs and Molloy give Irish boost

Claire Molloy will add some know-how to the Irish team on Sunday. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Claire Molloy will add some know-how to the Irish team on Sunday. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Daire Walsh

Ireland women's head coach Tom Tierney has been boosted by the return of experienced duo Niamh Briggs and Claire Molloy for Sunday's match against New Zealand at the UCD Bowl.

Both featured in the historic triumph against the Black Ferns during the 2014 World Cup and Tierney believes they will provide the nous that was missing in their heavy defeat to Canada last Saturday.

"They're obviously two very experienced players and that is something that we were arguably missing in a couple of areas against England," said Tierney.

"We were obviously missing that experience, by choice, in the Canadian game.

"Hopefully that bit more experience, that bit more rugby nous in certain areas of the field to actually change the course of attack, when it's the right thing to do, will work in good stead."

With ten changes made from the Canadian game, Ireland are hoping to end the November Series on a high against the four-time world champions, who defeated Canada 20-10 at Donnybrook on Wednesday.

Niamh Briggs
Niamh Briggs

Ireland will be without winger Alison Miller, with Tierney confirming that she has rejoined the Sevens squad ahead of their upcoming tournament in Dubai.

"Alison has done great for the couple of games, but it's important that we marry the two forms of the game."

Claire McLaughlin comes in for Miller and Tierney added: "That youthful inexperience of Claire on one wing and Mairead Coyne on the other, with Niamh as a linchpin in the 15 position, is a lovely balance to have."

Alongside Briggs, Coyne and McLaughlin in a potent back line, Nicole Fowley and Sene Naoupu are paired together in the centre - while Nora Stapleton and Larissa Muldoon re-establish their half-back partnership.

Molloy features in a back-row that also includes Ciara Griffin and Paula Fitzpatrick, as the same pack that started against England a fortnight ago is once again selected.

Ireland have been playing their November games in UCD as preparation for the 2017 World Cup, but in spite of their recent reversals, Tierney is delighted that the Belfield venue will be their home base for the tournament's group stages.

"It doubles up as a soccer field, so the pitch itself is absolutely brilliant. We genuinely couldn't ask for a better place to play our games," Tierney said.

Irish Independent

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