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A nod to future of Ireland women's game with Griffin taking captaincy

Ireland's Ciara Griffin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland's Ciara Griffin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It says a lot about the new era that beckons for Irish women's rugby that a player who started on the bench in last summer's World Cup opener, and worked herself into becoming one of the first names on the team-sheet, has been chosen to captain the side.

A lot of the squad's more experienced players have retired but previous captains like Niamh Briggs, Claire Molloy and Paula Fitzpatrick are still around, yet the one Adam Griggs turned to was Ciara Griffin.

A newly-appointed coach and captain firmly turns the page on the wretched World Cup campaign and the decisions look like wise moves.

Griffin was one of the few bright sparks and while the abrasive flanker may not be renowned for her rousing dressing-room speeches, the Kerry native has led by example since making her international debut in the 2016 Six Nations.

The 24-year-old skippered Tralee RFC before she moved to Bohs in Limerick and she told the Irish Independent that she was relishing the challenge of leading her country.

"No matter what jersey I'm wearing, I give everything to it. I won't be afraid to put my body on the line. I'll always go for that (big) tackle.

"I never give up. That's one thing I pride myself on. I will always work as hard as I can for as long as I can.

"I'm a person of a few words. I basically lead by my actions. If I talk, I talk for a reason.

"I would never ask a player to do something I wouldn't be willing to do myself."

Griggs will be glad to have players with the experience of Briggs and Molloy in his squad but Griffin was the one who he wanted to captain his side.

"The one thing I love about Ciara and having watched her for the last two years playing with Munster as well, is she leads with her actions and the way she plays the game," the head coach explained.

"That's what I like to see in a captain. She won't be the biggest talker the whole time so when she does speak, she essentially gets the room's attention because what she says is very clever.

"She understands the game, so when she speaks, the team will listen. It's just not white noise.

"It's definitely a look to the future because all going well, she is going to be involved for many years. Her quality as a leader at such a young age is something that is already shining through."

When the chips were down during the World Cup, it was noticeable that Griffin was one of the players chosen to face media.

Responsibility

Just like her no-nonsense approach on the pitch, she didn't shirk the responsibility off of it.

Griffin admits that she was surprised when she got the call from Griggs last week, but it helped too that she was instrumental in helping guide Munster to the inter-pro title after seeing off Griggs's Leinster.

"Everyone embraces change. Change is always good," Griffin maintained.

"It's a different style of play as well. Adam has an exciting way of playing, everyone is looking forward to getting started.

"I think the World Cup is parked now. It's a new era. It's a new campaign, new season. Look, things didn't go well for a number of reasons, that's disappointing but we have to look forward.

"It's a brand-new squad. There are nine uncapped players, 10 different clubs - so it's really exciting times for Irish rugby."

Griffin will no doubt be helped along the way by Briggs and Co but selecting the younger player as captain, is certainly a clear nod to the future.

Irish Independent

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