Sunday 22 October 2017

Losing key trio may well cost Ireland

Ireland's Alison Miller Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Ireland's Alison Miller Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The spotlight has been firmly shone on women's rugby in Ireland this week and for all of the talk of providing players with "opportunities", tomorrow's Six Nations clash against France is an ideal platform to prove that the strength in depth is sufficient to cope with losing three key players.

At the same time that Ireland aim to keep their Grand Slam dream alive, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrrell will jet off to Las Vegas for a Sevens tournament that doesn't take place until next weekend.

While the IRFU-enforced decision may well have dented morale within Tom Tierney's squad, the players must find a way to use this week's frustration to their benefit.

Ireland are flying high at the top of the table, having secured two bonus-point wins and although the performances were far from pretty, the players have shown an admirable resolve to get the job done.

Alert

They will, however, be on high alert as a French team who put 55 unanswered points on a Scottish outfit who Ireland scraped by in the opening round, arrive in Donnybrook.

For all of the disruptions facing the squad this week, the IRFU's director of women's and Sevens rugby Anthony Eddy insisted that the players were made fully aware of the decision to pull the trio well in advance.

Already without their vastly experienced captain Niamh Briggs (hamstring), it's difficult to see how the loss of the talismanic Naoupu and try-scoring machine Miller won't seriously damage Ireland's chances of staying on course for the Grand Slam.

"The expectation on the team is to go out and perform really well at the weekend - as it would be for any Ireland team," Eddy said.

Yet here we are, midway through the Six Nations campaign and just over six months out from the start of a home World Cup and the raft of changes continues.

The time has come for Ireland to find a settled team and stick with it.

Not having that against France may well cost them.

Verdict: France

Ireland Women - M Coyne; K Flood, J Murphy, C McLaughlin, E Considine; N Stapleton, M Healy; L Peat, L Lyons, A Egan; S Spence, M-L Reilly; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Reps: C O'Connor, I Van Staden, R O'Reilly, C Cooney, N Fryday, L Muldoon, N Caughey, L Galvin.

France Women - J Tremouliere; C Grassineau, C Ladagnous, E Poublan, S Izar; C Cabalou, J Le Pasq; L Arricastre, G Mignot (capt), J Duval; L Corson, A Forlani; M Mayans, R Menager, S N'Diaye. Reps: C Thomas, A Deshayes, C Ferer, L Grand, Y Rivoalen, L Godiveau, M Menager, P Carricaburu.

Irish Independent

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