Tuesday 6 December 2016

Moloney hails 'priceless' autumn experience as Ireland set for Black Ferns showdown

Published 26/11/2016 | 02:30

Cliodhna Moloney is ready to face New Zealand. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Cliodhna Moloney is ready to face New Zealand. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

It's been a testing month for Ireland and their task doesn't get any easier tomorrow when New Zealand arrive for the final game of their first-ever November series.

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Tom Tierney has understandably used the last two games against England and Canada to blood new players but he has restored plenty of his big guns for what will be another huge test in UCD.

1,300 tickets have already been sold and with more expected on the day, the attendance is set to exceed that of the defeat to England.

Tierney has made 10 changes from the side who were beaten by Canada last weekend, with captain Niamh Briggs and first-choice half-back pairing Larissa Muldoon and Nora Stapleton recalled.

While Ireland have lost both of their games, there have been positives to take from their performances. The main focus remains next year's World Cup and the Six Nations will show where Ireland really are ahead of what is a huge period for the women's game in this country.

This November series was the first of its kind and Cliodhna Moloney admitted that confidence was still high within the camp.

"It's priceless really," the hooker said of the opportunity to play against arguably the best three sides in the world.

"We never had this opportunity before. We played one international last year in November but to get three on the trot and to get the three best teams in the world coming here to play us. . .

"We're getting that kind of World Cup experience as well around camp for a bit longer and we're getting to go to events and stuff throughout the week.

"We get to see other teams play as well. We got to see New Zealand and Canada (play each other) during the week.

"We haven't really experienced anything like that before and especially with so many new girls in the squad, it's great to get this kind of opportunity."

Moloney also comes back into the side and makes up the front-row that also includes Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan.

The Railway Union player sat out last weekend's defeat to the Canadians and admitted that it was difficult to watch her side ship 48 points.

"It was very tough to watch last week obviously," she said. "The girls had a really disappointing day but the Canada team were very strong so it's good to get learnings from that for New Zealand this week.

"It's great to be back in camp, number one, and to get the start is always a bonus."

The Black Ferns pose a similarly tough test for Ireland and Moloney is under no illusion about the scale of the test that awaits tomorrow.

"We got a good look at them. They look very fast out the back and very physical up front," she added.

"We know what we need to do to nullify that. Hopefully we can get our stuff right and we'll see what happens after that."

A third defeat on the bounce would certainly dent confidence ahead of the Six Nations but in the long run, Ireland will hope to be all the better for the experience.

Verdict: New Zealand

Ireland - N Briggs (capt); M Coyne, N Fowley, S Naopu, C McLaughlin; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; M-L Reilly, O Fitzsimons; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Reps: L Lyons, F Hayes, F Reidy, N Friday, C Cooney, M Healy, J Shiels, N Kavanagh.

Irish Independent

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