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Irish winger Aoife Doyle eager to help young guns wing it on historic Japan tour

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Aoife Doyle

Aoife Doyle

Aoife Doyle

Aoife Doyle is relishing her second coming on the wing for Ireland but understands she may have to spend some time this weekend taking some exciting young talent under her wing.

With half-a-dozen young debutants prepared to make their bow in the first test of an historic Irish summer tour to Japan on Saturday, Doyle will be on hand to guide a back-line featuring four uncapped players through uncharted waters.

Although a relative veteran at 27, the Munster woman has only recently returned from Sevens rugby to the long-form game and Saturday’s test will represent just her tenth cap in the fifteens’ format.

With out-half Dannah O’Brien joining centre Aoife Dalton and back three pair Méabh Deely and Natasja Behan in coach Greg McWilliams’ unfamiliar line-up, Doyle appreciates the increased significance of her presence.

“Although I've been around for years, I obviously went in between the two programmes,” says Doyle, whose history with Ireland stretches as far back as the 2015 Six Nations title success.

“I'm a veteran, but in terms of caps, I'm definitely not. As I said, I've been around a number of years.

“I know how people have helped me when I first came into the programme and how they've brought me on around them.

“It's something that I wanted to do with the new girls that have come in. I'm very excited for them to see how they go on Saturday after all the hard work they've put in.

“It feels like full circle for me, because although I was only 18 when I made my debut, it still kind of feels like yesterday sometimes.

“I know exactly how the new players are feeling. I know exactly how they would have been feeling the first week coming into this environment.

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“For some of the senior girls, our main aim was to make it the most welcoming and relaxed environment for them. Because they need to feel like they can ask us questions whenever they need to and that they're supported going out on Saturday.

“That's what I hope they'll feel. They come in and they've taken their opportunity and they've put in the hard work themselves. I don't feel too much of a responsibility for how well-prepared they're making themselves.

"When I first came in I was very young. I didn't drive, so for me it was those players who were texting me, asking me did I need lifts to training, did I need lifts home from training. Obviously for me Niamh Briggs was a role model when I began playing and she was the full-back when I was the winger at the time.

“We had a really good relationship on the pitch and off the pitch. As she transformed to a coaching role with me now, that's something I'd like to do with the younger girls coming in as well."


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