Saturday 18 January 2020

Naoupu issues call for 'strong' competition in Irish inter-pros

Ireland centre Sene Naoupu. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland centre Sene Naoupu. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ireland's lack of games over the summer has been a bone of contention for many, with Lindsay Peat one of the most vocal players as she voiced her dissatisfaction at rival nations widening the gap that already exists.

The squad held a skills session recently, but not having any meaningful international game-time means players must focus their attention on the inter-pros, which begin in August.

A 'Super Series' tournament kicks off tomorrow in San Diego as New Zealand, Canada, the USA, England and France enter a competition that will naturally help to improve the top-five ranked teams in the world.

However, Ireland centre Sene Naoupu feels that might force the quality of the inter-pros to improve.

"We are lucky to have a Six Nations every year," Naoupu said.

"The work that we've been doing with the rugby ethics commission was that southern hemisphere teams were crying out for games.

"So, if anything, it's great that the likes of New Zealand are getting more international games. Overall, it balances out. To have a global calendar would be key.

"We'd love to have more games, but those teams have earned the right to play those games.

"For now we can focus on a really strong domestic competition. Make sure our inter-pros are nice and strong - we've increased the number of games, which is super."

Ireland must qualify for the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand and Naoupu insists that they'll be ready for the initial qualifier tournament in September next year.

"What I'm excited about is after the lows, there's only one way to go. I'd rather be part of a team that comes back from whatever depths, rather than a team that wins every day. I wouldn't change a thing.

"We learned plenty. It's going to be a massive 16 months."

Irish Independent

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