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Coghlan Looking Forward To Women’s Six Nations

Coghlan Looking Forward To Women’s Six Nations

Ireland, who finished third last year, open the 2012 RBS Women’s 6 Nations with a home game on Friday night at Ashbourne against one of their biggest rivals Wales, a match in which there has been little to choose between the sides in recent years.

Neither side have played a game since the last Six Nations, a fact which Fiona Coghlan says puts them on pretty even footing.

“We are set as we can be. We will have had four weekends together and there are some new faces in the squad so it will be good to see how they gel with the side in the first game out against Wales,” she said.

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“The Welsh are similar to ourselves in that we haven’t had much time in games to work on things, so I would say we will be fairly even.”

Coghlan concedes that more game-time would be a huge benefit to her side.

“Every team wants more game-time. We haven’t played in a year so we would love to have had but you have to just get on with it. As a player you want to play as many games as possible but that’s what we are dealt with.

“There are some young girls in the squad this year who have come all the way up through the ranks which is fantastic for us to see that happening.

“The coaches have some selection headaches to choose that starting 15 not just the squad itself. We are in a positive place given the preparation we have had.”

Having finished third last year, Coghlan says repeating their 2011 performances is the minimum target though with their two away games against England and France, winning their home fixtures is a must.

“Finishing third again is something we would hope for as a minimum. We’ve done that the last few years and with our numbers and resources, that’s a good return. This year we’ve got France and England away which is always the tough year of fixtures for us.

“Both teams are superb at home and France away is probably one of those games where we have never really managed to do ourselves justice.

“We have managed to beat them at home so we would love to go there and do something special. Their support is phenomenal at home and the show they put on for games is fantastic so that’s a tough one.”

With home clashes with Italy, Wales and Scotland, Ireland though will expect to do well at Ashbourne RFC, a venue where they have recorded some fine results in recent years.

“We love playing there. The pitch is excellent and the community around there really get behind us and we have a good enough record there, so three home matches for us is something for us to really look forward to.”

With the IRB recently confirming that the 2012 and 2013 Six Nations Championships will play a defining role in the path to the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, there will also be added pressure on Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy with England and France already qualified.

The upshot is that Ireland will need to finish third or fourth this year and next, with the two highest-placed teams on aggregate over two years securing places at France 2014.

“I think that definitely will add to the competitiveness of the Six Nations,” added the experienced prop.

“Before now it was one year of a tournament which went towards qualification but this time around it’s right now and again next year which makes it massively important.

“We will just be focused on one match at a time though like everyone else, but it does add to the interest.”

Ireland’s playing ranks have been boosted in recent months but the re-establishing of an Exiles side made up of Irish-qualified players based in the UK.

Last week the Exiles team played a friendly game against Ireland from which head coach Philip Doyle had a chance to see up close another group of potential players for his squad.

Coghlan believes in time that that source of talent will be a huge benefit, explaining: “The game itself was very useful and in a country with a small playing pool the more girls we can get aspiring to play for Ireland the better.

“A lot of those girls are playing in a very strong English Premiership, so they will bring some good standards with them and a couple of them have been selected which is great.”

Interview courtesy of www.ScrumQueens.com.