Tuesday 19 June 2018

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We're rectifying what happened at the World Cup, insists Griggs

Megan Williams, in action for Leinster in December, has been drafted in from the Sevens set-up for the Six Nations campaign. Photo: Sportsfile
Megan Williams, in action for Leinster in December, has been drafted in from the Sevens set-up for the Six Nations campaign. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

By the time Ireland's World Cup clash against France rolled around, there was a sense of optimism in the air - albeit of a cautious nature.

Having eked out a win against Australia in their opener, Ireland struggled badly against Japan, but in the end just about got the job done.

Ireland Women's head coach Adam Griggs. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland Women's head coach Adam Griggs. Photo: Sportsfile

The third game against France was when they were supposed to hit full throttle, but instead the weaknesses on display in their opening two games were ruthlessly exposed, and the hosts' campaign spiralled out of control.

Embark

Fast forward five and a half months, and Ireland are about to embark on a new journey under the stewardship of Adam Griggs.

The Kiwi could hardly have asked for a tougher opening assignment as he takes his side to Toulouse to face a France side, who after beating Ireland last August, went on to finish third at the World Cup.

The mood in the camp has been lifted by Griggs' fresh approach. Having spent the last two seasons in charge of Leinster, he knows the landscape of the women's game well.

The appointment of Mike Ross as scrum coach is a shrewd move and has been welcomed from all quarters.

A victory over Wales in a warm-up game a fortnight ago restored the winning mentality that was badly damaged at the World Cup but an altogether tougher task lies ahead this evening in the Six Nations opener.

"We were delighted to get the win," said Griggs.

"There were certainly some patches of brilliance from us. We scored some really nice tries and the ladies put in a decent performance.

"But like everything in rugby, we had plenty of work-ons. All in all, it was a really good start, which was positive for us.

"It's (mood) very positive. I think everyone is rectifying what happened at the World Cup. We're looking to move forward.

"The women have shown that they are in a positive head space and they want to put that behind them and show that we are better than some of those performances were."

Having impressed on the Sevens circuit, Megan Williams has been drafted into the setup and she will make her debut on the wing.

Several leaders like Jenny Murphy, Ailis Egan, Nora Stapleton and Marie-Louise Reilly have departed but there is enough experience still left within the squad.

Alison Miller has been around the block and is a quality operator, as is Claire Molloy who passes on the captaincy to Kerry native Ciara Griffin.

Niamh Briggs's long-awaited return is a huge boost to Griggs as well as the players. It will be fascinating to see how she gets on with her move from full-back to out-half.

"We've been running her a lot at 10 in training camps," Griggs explained.

"I was delighted for her to be able to come through 40 minutes of rugby (against Wales) with no new injuries.

"She was feeling good, it was like she had never been away. She played some really nice rugby and her experience is going to be invaluable to us."

For all of Ireland's success over the years, they have only beaten France twice, and have never won away from home, which highlights just how difficult this evening's test will be.

"It's a very tough start for us but in a way I think it is going to set us up well for the tournament," Griggs added.

"It's such a tough game. We're kicking off at nine o'clock at night, that's also a challenge.

"But then that leads us into three home games which should set us up nicely for the rest of the tournament."

The long game must be in sight as Ireland rebuild under Griggs. A positive performance will be the order of the day, even if victory may be beyond them.

Verdict: France

France - J Trémoulière; C Boujard, J Le Pesq, C Boudaud, C Banet; P Bourdon, Y Rivoalen; L Arricastre, A Sochat, J Duval; C Ferer, S N'Diaye; M Mayns, G Hermet (capt), E Ménager. Reps: G Mignot, D Traore, P Carricaburu, A Forlani, C Diallo, E Coudert, G Vernier, M Ménager.

Ireland - K Flood; M Williams, C McLaughlin, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Briggs, A Hughes; L Peat, C Moloney, F Reidy; C Cooney, O Fitzsimons; A Caplice, C Molloy, C Griffin (capt). Reps: L Lyons, L Feely, C O'Connor, N Fryday, P Fitzpatrick, M Healy, N Caughey, M Coyne.

Ref - I Tempest (England)

  • France v Ireland, Live 8.0, RTE2

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