Thursday 22 February 2018

Stapleton: We won't defend as poorly as the other teams

Ireland's Nora Stapleton. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Nora Stapleton. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

A quick glance at the Six Nations table is enough to stress the scale of the task that lies ahead for the Ireland Women's team against the defending world champions England but while they have blitzed most teams, Nora Stapleton has vowed that her side will not defend as poorly as the others.

Scotland's defence was non-existent as England heaped 64 points on them without reply last weekend. Ireland's rearguard, on the other hand, has been impressive and they have conceded just four tries compared to England's five.

According to Stapleton, this week has been about focusing on where the small margins can be gained rather than about the systems that England have in place off the field.

It has been well documented at this stage but England turned professional last year - the first international women's team to do so in the northern hemisphere. While they have been in camp since thrashing the hapless Scots, Ireland only had their first pitch session yesterday.

"To be honest, in the squad, we don't really talk about that at all," Stapleton said when asked if Ireland were at a disadvantage coming up against a fully professional outfit.

"It's all about what we are going to do to try and stop them. You only ever look at what they are doing on the pitch.

"There is no point looking outside of that; we don't look at their training, we don't look at their lifestyles or anything like that.

"Our analysis is purely done on what they are able to do on the pitch, whether it is attack or defence and then how do we counter-attack that. It's how much we can disrupt their ball basically.

"But then again, the last couple of games that we have played England, the forwards have been dominant and I felt have had the upper edge on the English pack."

England may have conceded one more try but, worryingly, they have scored 20 more than Ireland have mustered. Stapleton, however, isn't reading too much into that.

"Looking at it, some of that has got to do with poor defence from the opposition. We're not going to defend like that and that's going to be one of the key differences."

Tickets for tomorrow's Grand Slam decider in Donnybrook are almost sold out as the public are offered a glimpse of what to expect when the World Cup rolls around in August.

Stapleton retains her number 10 jersey but she has a new half-back partner in Larissa Muldoon who replaces Mary Healy in the only change.

"I'm just delighted that we are going to have that support because I think it's about time that we got that buzz back," she added.

"Its nice to know that we have genuine fans out there who are very excited about coming to the game. Does it increase your performance? No, I would hope that we are already up there."

Ireland Women (v England) - K Flood; H Tyrrell, J Murphy, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon, L Peat, L Lyons, A Egan; S Spence, M-L Reilly; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick (capt). Reps: C O'Connor, I Van Staden, R O'Reilly, C Cooney, N Fryday, M Healy, N Caughey, M Coyne.

Irish Independent

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