Thursday 19 April 2018

Egan: Rotation policy can make squad stronger

Ireland's Ailis Egan (PA)
Ireland's Ailis Egan (PA)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As one of the more experienced players in the Ireland squad, Ailis Egan has experienced the lows of defeat as well as the highs of success, but for many of the newer faces, Sunday's clash with Italy becomes even more important as they look to end a two-game losing streak.

Tom Tierney's team selection is certainly looking to the future, which makes Egan's role in the front-row even more important.

Like Ireland, Italy have won just one of their three games to date and despite their relative inexperience, Tierney's side will be confident of building on the win over Wales, which was the last time they played in their new Donnybrook home.

"The ultimate aim is 2017 (World Cup) and we're a relatively new squad," Egan stressed.

"Hopefully the new players will have gotten a lot from the two defeats. It's really, really important that we learn from those narrow defeats because we can't keep letting that happen.

"You have to be patient but anyone that was involved in the 2014 World Cup. . . we had two massive losses against England and France. That's in recent memory and I personally learned a lot from those defeats.

"I think the devastation that I felt after those World Cup defeats made me a better player and now I'm able to look at these games with a more constructive and positive viewpoint in that I can see where we can go and where we are going as a squad."

Egan has welcomed the host of changes that Tierney has made to the starting XV and with Ireland out of contention for the Six Nations title, she knows the importance of giving new players big game experience now.

Kim Flood and Liz Burke both come into the back three to make their debuts, with captain Niamh Briggs switching to the more unfamiliar surrounds of outside-centre. Alison Miller returns from Sevens duty.

"It seems right," Egan said of the changes. "I don't really see it as being frustrating because even though we will be blooding new players and combinations, I still know that this is a fantastic group of players with bucket-loads of talent.

"We came very close against England and even against France when you're looking back on it, we left a lot out there on the pitch and maybe in crucial areas we just didn't execute correctly. Those are the fine margins at international rugby.

"I have full confidence in whatever combinations are selected that we'd still go in and put in a really good performance and come out with a win. That will only make us stronger as a squad."

Ireland Women (v Italy) - K Flood; L Burke, N Briggs (capt), S Naoupu, A Miller; N Caughey, M Healy; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; E Anthony, M L Reilly; C Cooney, C Griffin, S Spence. Reps: Z Grattage, R O'Reilly, F Reidy, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick, L Muldoon, N Stapleton, C McLaughlin.

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