Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Stunning' Schmidt presence giving Ireland extra edge

Heather O'Brien, Ireland, in action against New Zealand. Picture credit: Aurlien Meunier / SPORTSFILE
Heather O'Brien, Ireland, in action against New Zealand. Picture credit: Aurlien Meunier / SPORTSFILE
Niamh Briggs, Ireland, kicks a penalty. Picture credit: Aurélien Meunier / SPORTSFILE
Alison Miller, Ireland, in action against New Zealand. Picture credit: Aurélien Meunier / SPORTSFILE
Ireland players Fiona Coghlan, 1, Sophie Spence and Tania Rosser celebrate victory over New Zealand. Picture credit: Aurélien Meunier / SPORTSFILE
Lynne Cantwell, Ireland's most capped women's rugby player. Picture credit: Manuel Blondeau / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ireland's most capped women's rugby player Lynne Cantwell has revealed the inspiration that she and her team-mates have taken from the presence of Joe Schmidt and Les Kiss around their camp.

Both coaches were in Marcoussis on Tuesday to witness Ireland's historic 17-14 win over Schmidt's native New Zealand and Cantwell admitted that her side took great encouragement from seeing them taking such a keen interest in their World Cup campaign.

"Himself (Schmidt) and Les (Kiss) came in for our last training session and they had been at the friendly against Wales the week before," said Cantwell.

"It was so lovely for them to actually see us play and come in and say, 'okay this is what I still think you need to fine-tune'.

"The timing of it was stunning really because there were just little triggers and a few little key technical things that have stuck in our mind and we've brought those into it (World Cup).

"I suppose it gives you confidence as well that they were really impressed with what we were doing. They told us we could be even better by doing certain things and obviously that was taken on board."

Despite Schmidt's interest in the women's team, Cantwell acknowledged that he hasn't had any direct influence in any of their games.

"I think Joe was very respectful of our team dynamics so he didn't have any input on the game plan itself, but no doubt when we were warming up, we knew that he was there and we were like proud little kids trying to impress him. He's very proud of what we did."

Ireland go into tomorrow's game against bottom side Kazakhstan knowing that victory would seal their place in the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in their history.

But the centre isn't about to let complacency get in the way of advancing to the last four.

"Bodies are sore but we're happy with what we've done so far. The coaches are literally sitting and waiting to go through the analysis with us," the 33-year old said.

"They've been phenomenal in going through everything so no doubt we'll be hit with that for the next plan."

Cantwell has no doubts that Ireland can now go on and win the World Cup, but she knows only too well the importance of the entire squad sticking together over what will be a demanding period – both physically and mentally.

"With the player profiles that we have in this World Cup, we do have a lot of experience and that's a strength of ours," she said.

"But the fearlessness and energy of the younger players, particularly in the last 10 days, is going to be paramount."

Irish Independent

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