Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Losing Niamh is something we've always planned for' - Tierney

Tierney confirmed that Briggs would not have a role to play behind the scenes in the coming weeks. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tierney confirmed that Briggs would not have a role to play behind the scenes in the coming weeks. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Tom Tierney believes that his Ireland squad will be galvanised by the blow of losing their captain Niamh Briggs ahead of the World Cup.

Ireland begin their campaign against Australia tomorrow and Tierney has called on the other experienced players to step up and fill the void.

Briggs missed the Six Nations due to a serious hamstring injury but picked up a fresh Achilles problem in rehab which scuppered her chances of leading Ireland at a home World Cup. The full-back was always in a race to be fit in time for the tournament, which has allowed Tierney to plan for this eventual outcome.

The former scrum-half admitted that it was a huge blow to his side but he insists that it has brought the squad closer together. "Sport has a funny way of doing that, especially team sports," Tierney maintained.

"It's like a switch that goes on, and suddenly you're in a different mindset. The mindset is the key.

"She's been rehabbing this since October, so it's something we've always planned for. From an injury perspective anyone can fall down at any stage, so we have to be vigilant that we have cover, but also from growing the squad, and creating a player pool that's big enough to handle the setbacks. We're very pleased that the plan has reaped dividends."

Tierney confirmed that Briggs would not have a role to play behind the scenes in the coming weeks as he backed Claire Molloy to lead by example.

"She's the most capped player in the squad, and since I got here she's been a driving force in the leadership group, and we felt she was the outstanding candidate just to bring the squad further on.

"Paula (Fitzpatrick) did a superb job standing in for Niamh in the Six Nations, and Niamh did a superb job in her time, so it's something we felt it was the right time for Claire. "She's got 100-per-cent backing from all the players, all the senior players helping her, because it's not just a one person thing."

The mind games have been in full flow as Australia captain Shannon Parry suggested that as hosts, all of the pressure is on Ireland in tomorrow's mouth-watering sold-out clash. While Tierney accepted that there is a certain level of expectation on his players, he has urged them to embrace the fact that they are the home team.

"There's two ways of looking at it. One, you can see it as a negative and it can get to you, and you'll lose your focus because that's all you're focusing on," he said. "And two, what we've tried to do is right, every single player is responsible for their job, they do their job, the management do their job, and we bring that together as a team then we have a situation where we can bring that on to the pitch and suddenly all the outside factors and the occasion, then is not going to affect performance levels, but help it. The girls are very clear on that, and they're driving it themselves."

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