Thursday 22 February 2018

Marie Louise Reilly not daunted by bruising French outfit

Marie Louise Reilly in action
Marie Louise Reilly in action
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There may have been a changing of the guard within the Ireland women's set-up but Marie Louise Reilly is relishing her new role as one of the more senior players.

The second-row has taken over as the lineout caller from the now-retired Fiona Coghlan and she is hoping for a collective improvement when Ireland host France in Ashbourne this evening (7.30).

Tom Tierney got his tenure in charge off to a winning start in Florence last weekend with a 30-5 win over Italy but Reilly is adamant that there is still plenty to come from her side as they look to ramp up the intensity against what is a formidable French side.

"I think the lineout will function better against France, there's a few little things we need to work on in that," she admitted.

"I'm in charge of lineout calls as well this year, so it's just an added thing that I'll have to work on in terms of my selection on the day.

"I think I've learned a lot from Fi Coghlan, she's done a lot of it down through the years. She's the consummate professional in that she's cool and controlled on the pitch, so hopefully I'll have learned a lot from her and try to bring that into the games going forward.

"We do a lot of video analysis. I'd have a chat with Gillian Bourke, our hooker. She's incredibly knowledgeable in the area and we'd kind of have a game-plan that we're going into the French match, both in terms of defence and attack."

Tierney has made just one change to his side with Katie Fitzhenry replacing Jackie Shiels in the Irish midfield.

Ireland were beaten 25-18 by France in the third/fourth place play-off at last year's World Cup and Reilly knows that another tough task lies in store this evening.

"They offer everything that is great about rugby: a domineering pack, the flair out in the backs so it should be an unbelievable game and the support is always welcome because it will be that tough a task," Reilly conceded.

"In the lineout they have an incredibly good lineout jumper, she's very small and very light, so they throw her up easily.

"She points at me and I point at her. Around the park, their number five and number eight have been incredibly strong down the years for them.

"If you don't get that chop tackle, you're going back at a rate of knots. So from looking at the Scotland game, they chopped them down well."

France opened their Six Nations account with a thumping 42-0 win over Scotland. They have maintained the majority of last year's World Cup squad but Reilly is hoping that home advantage proves crucial.

"Ashbourne is always brilliant. Hopefully we get huge numbers."

Verdict: France

Ireland - N Briggs; H Tyrrell, J Murphy, K Fitzhenry, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R O'Reilly, G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O'Brien.

Reps: S Mimnagh, F Hayes, F O'Brien, O Fitzsimons, K Norris, R Rosser, J Shiels, S Naoupu.

Irish Independent

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