Méabh Deely has revenge in mind for Wales opener

Méabh Deely: 'We are looking for a front-on battle but that’s something we love, we thrive on that.' Photo: Sportsfile

Sinéad Kissane

Ireland back Méabh Deely says they will travel to Cardiff with a “bit of revenge” on their minds for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Wales.

Ireland were beaten in their opening game of last year’s tournament with a surprise 19-27 loss to Wales at the RDS.

Deely (22) wasn’t part of the Ireland Six Nations squad last year and made her international debut at full-back in the first summer Test against Japan in Fukuroi City last August.

“Obviously, they beat us last year and I think that’s in the back of everyone’s minds that we want to go into this with a little bit of revenge to get back at it. But I think everyone’s feeling good about it,” Deely said yesterday at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre.

“It’s a young team. There’s a lot of girls that haven’t played a Six Nations, like me. In a way, I don’t really know what to expect. But I’m really excited about it anyway. We’re definitely going over there with that at the back of our mind.”

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams will name this team today for the round one game at Cardiff Arms Park which will feature a much-changed backline from last year’s match against Wales because of the unavailability of sevens players like Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Stacey Flood.

It will be the first Six Nations that IRFU-contracted XVs players will form part of the Ireland women’s squad.

Wales – who were beaten 55-3 by New Zealand in the quarter-final of last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup – are in the second year of their professionalised set-up. However, Deely doesn’t necessarily believe that Wales are a step ahead of Ireland.

​“I’m not sure. I think obviously we’ve got contracted players and so have they and they’re at the beginning of their journey and so are we. Time will tell with how it will all play out,” said Deely who is one of the IRFU-contracted XVs players.

“I think this campaign is going to be so much different to previous because obviously so much has built in the last year with Irish women’s rugby. Top three (finish overall) is definitely our goal and hopefully we’ll get there.”

Munster utility forward Deirbhile Nic a Bháird – who can play hooker and No 8 – believes the return of the Premier XVs players to the Ireland camp has added another dimension to their Six Nations preparation. Some of Ireland’s top forwards like captain Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan and Neve Jones turned down IRFU contracts to remain living and playing in the UK.

“They learn very different things over there to us or have different exposures. Probably playing with a lot more internationals week in, week out. Their experiences over there have been phenomenal. They’ve built into leaders as well,” Nic a Bháird said.

“It’s great to have that mix of players come into a squad to be honest because we may not see each other for a couple of months of the year so it does bring a bit of excitement and energy in when you’re meeting friends you haven’t seen for a good chunk of time.

“We know we can play free-flowing rugby once we’ve created the space for it. And all of that is basics and doing system-driven things first. As long as we stay calm and do those basics well, we can create a platform for all the fancy and more fun rugby that we want to play later on in the matches.

“Wales, historically, they’re a physical team. I don’t think that’s going to have changed. We are looking for a front-on battle but that’s something we love, we thrive on that. We have a lot of that dog-fight grit in the squad and we really want to show that now.”