Monday 22 October 2018

Coach Tierney bullish as Ireland women gear up for World Cup on home soil

Ireland head coach Tom Tierney at yesterday’s squad announcement for next month’s Womens Rugby World Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Tom Tierney at yesterday’s squad announcement for next month’s Womens Rugby World Cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Ireland have "wanted for nothing" and have absolutely no excuses for not producing the goods at the Women's Rugby World Cup, according to head coachTom Tierney.

"We're the best prepared team going into a World Cup in the history of the game here and we have absolutely no excuses," said Tierney, whose side lost a Grand Slam decider with defending champions England in this year's final Six Nations game.

Ireland captain: Niamh Briggs. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ireland captain: Niamh Briggs. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tierney yesterday announced his final squad of 28, which includes just one uncapped player in Limerick scrum-half Nicole Cronin.

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Cronin, who is related to men's international hooker Sean Cronin, was on a soccer scholarship in America and played international soccer at U-17 level before opting to specialise in sevens rugby.

Her opportunity to play 15-a-side rugby was previously curtailed when she got injured on the international sevens circuit last season.

Niamh Briggs, who will captain Ireland, has no doubts about the ability of her UL Bohemians team-mate.

"Nicole is a super player. She's quick, a very good footballer, excelled at sevens and has been a huge addition to the group both on and off the field. She'll definitely be pushing for a starting spot."

Cronin offers back-up at number nine but Ireland have no specialist cover for out-half Nora Stapleton after Nikki Caughey suffered a medial ligament knee injury in training last weekend.

Stapleton could yet make it back for some stage of the tournament, which is being hosted in Dublin and Belfast from August 9-26.

Tierney believes that he has enough versatility in the backs to cope, stressing that Briggs and Sene Naoupu can cover at 10.

The Ireland manager said that all members of the 48-strong training squad not selected remain on standby "because we're very conscious there's going to be a high rate of attrition".

Ireland open their tough group against Australia on August 9 and follow that with games against Japan on August 13 and France four days later.

They beat Japan in two warm-up games this summer and got the better of France 13-10 in Donnybrook in last season's Six Nations.

Twelve of the final squad were involved when Ireland made the WRWC semi-finals in 2014, while Briggs, Stapleton, Claire Molloy and Marie-Louise Reilly will be competing in their third World Cup.

Debuts

Making their debuts at this level are former inter-county GAA players Eimear Considine (Clare) and Lindsay Peat (Dublin) and, for the first time, players will be financially compensated for missing work during the tournament.

Briggs said she is fully recovered from the hamstring injury which has kept her out of competitive rugby since last November.

"This is, by far, our best prepared squad in terms of strength and depth and the time we've had together," she said. "We've got a good core of the squad that played in the last World Cup. Having the tournament on home soil is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it's important that we make the most of it, but we can't get too high or too low - we have to keep focusing on our next game."

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