4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
Fiona Coghlan: It is a huge honour for me to take over as captaincy. When Simon (Broughton) rang me to ask me I didn't even have to think about it.
To play for Ireland has always been such an amazing experience and now to be captain my country just tops that, especially with the group of people I will be leading.
IR: What do you hope to bring to the position?
FC: I want to instill in the squad the belief that they can play against top teams in world rugby. This will only come through playing well and winning games.
IR: Ireland will play Spain first - a team you have had some success against in recent years - what kind of game are you expecting?
FC: Well we haven't played Spain in three years and I am sure they have gone through some development of their own, so it is a bit of an unknown.
They are always a passionate team and will be out to prove that they can beat a Six Nations team, as they feel they were unfairly removed from the competition. Every international game is a tough one and I think the best thing to do is focus on our game and what we can do to them.
IR: How important are the Euros as a stepping stone towards the next World Cup?
FC: The Europeans is a very important competition for us to develop new players and develop as a squad. Aside from the Six Nations, we play very few Internationals and the Six Nations isn't always the best place to blood new players.
There are some uncapped players with us for the Europeans looking to get their first cap and a number of players looking to get their first start. There is more competition in certain positions and it will allow coaches to have a look at different combinations.
IR: Will the loss of John O'Sullivan as head coach have an impact?
FC: Obviously it was a shock to the squad that John had to step down but we have kept consistency in coaches and management which is a bonus. Simon Broughton takes over as head coach and Ray Ward remains as forwards coach, with the management remaining the same.
Simon has introduced some really exciting attacking systems that the squad are really looking forward to implementing at the Europeans.
IR: What areas (from the Six Nations) will Ireland look to improve upon?
FC: We need to learn how to finish teams off, to be more ruthless, we let a few teams off the hook too easily in the Six Nations in games which we could have won. From a forwards perspective we would like to see our scrums improve, in order to give our backs more quality ball.
I think with our new style of play we will have forwards and backs mixing a lot better and complementing each other.
Meanwhile, the two vacancies in the Irish squad for the European Women's Championship have gone to Carol Staunton of St. Mary's and Richmond's Jackie Shiels. Simon Broughton has a total of 26 players at his disposal for the tournament's duration.
IRELAND WOMEN'S SQUAD (2008 FIRA European Championship, Amsterdam, May 17-24):
Forwards (15) -
Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians)
Debbie Clarke (Blackrock)
Eimear O'Sullivan (Highfield)
Emer McManamly (Blackrock)
Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians) (capt)
Germaine Healy (Blackrock)
Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians)
Jess Limbert (Cooke)
Joy Neville (UL Bohemians)
Kate O'Loughlin (Clonmel)
Louise Austin (Blackrock)
Marie Barrett (Highfield)
Orla Brennan (Blackrock)
Sinead Ryan (Blackrock)
Carol Staunton (St. Mary's)
Backs (11) -
Amy Davis (Cooke)
Grace Davitt (Blackrock)
Helen Brosnan (Highfield)
Jeanette Feighery (UL Bohemians)
Jo O'Sullivan (Richmond)
Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians)
Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohemians)
Niamh Briggs (Clonmel)
Shannon Houston (Blackrock)
Tania Rosser (Blackrock)
Jackie Shiels (Richmond)
Fixtures - Pool A -
Saturday, May 17, 2008: Quarter-Final: Ireland v Spain, Amsterdam
Tuesday, May 20, 2008: Semi-Final: England or Sweden v Ireland or Spain, Drachten
Saturday, May 24, 2008: Play-Offs and Final, Amsterdam