Wednesday 23 May 2018

Briggs: I definitely fell out of love with the game after the World Cup

Ireland's Niamh Briggs. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Niamh Briggs. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Even at 33, and into her 10th season playing international rugby, Niamh Briggs is still learning.

Yet it very nearly didn't get to this point as two career-threatening injuries saw the veteran contemplate hanging up the boots for good.

Now she finds herself in a new position and pulling the strings for an Ireland team that is trying to reinvent themselves under the stewardship of Adam Griggs.

Making the switch from out-half to full-back has added to Briggs' rejuvenation and while her role has changed, her relentless desire to succeed has never wavered.

"It's like a new lease of life," the Waterford native admits. "I'm learning loads. Having been out for so long and then coming back into a new position, it was almost like my first cap again.

"I definitely fell out of love a bit with the game after the World Cup.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to continue playing. To come back and to come into the 10 jersey, is really exciting.

"So many things have changed in terms of me personally and then the game has evolved as well. I'm not used to being stuck in there not having a lot of space!"

Briggs had a brief stint at out-half back around the time she made her debut in 2008, but the game has moved on a lot since those days.

The fact that she only got back running in December, has meant that there was inevitable rustiness but Briggs feels like she is nearing a return to form.

"I think every game has been a bit better," she maintains. "I'd love to be fitter and sharper in terms of rugby but I'm kind of using this one now for what it is - I'm trying to learn as much as I can.

"There were many dark days and I honestly didn't think I'd get back, and didn't think I wanted to get back but my family were great, my father in particular and my mum."

"I think it had to be something personal. I had to come back for me and what I wanted. That was what the ultimate decision was.

"My parents were trying to push me into it a long time before I'd made the decision; I think they knew I wasn't ready to step away from it.

"I think that as long as I'm able, physically and mentally, then why wouldn't I keep playing? That's been a huge part of it."

Briggs was visibly emotional during the anthems in the Six Nations opener in France. It hasn't been an easy road to get back to this point and in that moment she showed how much it meant to her.

"I think I was just happy to be back playing, to be honest," she maintains.

"It's not something that I had envisaged. In my head, had it been the perfect scenario I think I always had said it to my mum that I would walk away at the end of the 2017 World Cup. She always said I wouldn't.

"There were some really dark days, I found it really difficult to cope with the fact that I hadn't played in that World Cup.

"I took some time away from work and stayed at home for a little while. That definitely helped me but it was just a culmination of that emotion to get back."

Briggs is in her new role again tomorrow as Ireland look to maintain their good run against Scotland.

"They've had some dark days," she adds.

"In terms of them as a squad, and where women's rugby was in Scotland, but they're on the right track now."

Just like Briggs herself.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland - K Flood; M Williams, F Fitzhenry, S Naoupu, H Tyrrell; N Briggs, A Hughes; L Peat, C Moloney, L Lyons; A McDermott, O Fitzsimons; C Griffin, (capt), C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Reps: C O'Connor, L Feely, F Reidy, A Baxter, E McMahon, N Cronin, M Claffey, L Galvin.

Scotland - C Rollie; L Musgrove, L Thomson, H Nelson, H Smith; L Martin (capt) S Law; S McMillan, L Skeldon, M Kennedy; E Wassell, D McCormack; S Bonar, R Malcolm, J Konkel. Reps: J Rettie, K Dougan, L Smith, S Cattigan, L McMillan, J Maxwell, L Harris, R Lloyd.

Ireland women v Scotland women, live, RTÉ2, tomorrow 1.0

Irish Independent

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