Sunday 30 April 2017

Fit-again Kavanagh aiming to make up for lost time as World Cup looms

Niamh Kavanagh Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Niamh Kavanagh Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It's been a long road for Niamh Kavanagh but the countless hours she spent rehabbing her hamstring injury went some way to paying off last weekend when she returned to the international stage.

The Munster winger has endured a luckless run but her return has certainly bolstered Tom Tierney's options as next year's World Cup looms.

Kavanagh picked up the injury in Ireland's final warm-up game against Wales prior to the 2014 World Cup and hasn't featured since.

Those dark days are behind her now as she bids to make up for lost time and this afternoon's game against Canada gives her another opportunity to impress Tierney.

"It's great to be back involved after being out for two years," Kavanagh said.

"Missing out on the World Cup last year and being involved in a World Cup year. This year, it's fantastic to have the autumn internationals in order to have that bit of extra time to get used to the set-up again and get back into the swing of things."

Ireland are eager to bounce back from last weekend's defeat to England but their task doesn't get any easier as the 2014 World Cup runners up arrive in UCD.

England comfortably saw off Canada in the final which gives an idea of the scale of the challenge that lies ahead for an Ireland side who are again without several key players.

Niamh Briggs (hamstring) trained yesterday and will hope to return for next week's final autumn international against New Zealand. Sophie Spence (concussion) and Claire Molloy also miss out through injury.

"Happy with the performance, we have a lot to take from it," Kavanagh said, reflecting on the defeat last week.

"It gives us a chance to look forward to see what we need to work on for the Six Nations and then obviously leading into the World Cup next August.

"It's great to have the Test game against England - the number one team in the world - and to be able to work out a few kinks that we have and then go from there."

Canada are very much an unknown quantity for Ireland and Tierney has admitted as much this week but nevertheless, he will expect a big response after being beaten at home.

"We don't get to play them that often," Kavanagh maintained. "They had a bit of Summer series against England and then obviously a couple of games last year.

"I think they will be interesting to play against. They have a couple of Sevens players coming back in which will add a different dynamic to it but we'll just have to go from there and play our structures like we did against England and see what we come up with. Hopefully we come away with the win."

Verdict: Canada

IRELAND - M Coyne; N Kavanagh, N Fowley, S Naopu, A Miller; N Caughey, M Healy; F Hayes, Z Grattage, F Reidy; K Norris, N Fryday; C Cooney, A Caplice, P Fitzpatrick (capt). Reps: L Lyons, L Peat, A Egan, E Anthony, C Pearse, L Muldoon, J Shiels, C McLaughlin.

CANADA- J Zussman; E Alaric, A Tessier, A Burk, M Harvey; E Belchos, C Guthrie; C McEwan, L Russell, D Menin; L Blackwood, K Mack; J Grusnick, K Paquin, K Russell (capt). Reps: G Boag, O DeMarchant, D Stamatakis, T Beukeboom, B Mervin, B Miller, M Higgins, B Waters.

Irish Independent

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