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Tierney: It’s A Great Opportunity For The Girls Involved

Tierney: It’s A Great Opportunity For The Girls Involved

Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney is looking forward to testing out a number of new players in Saturday’s historic autumn Test against England at the Twickenham Stoop (kick-off 3pm).

With a memorable Interprovincial campaign done and dusted and the Women’s All-Ireland League heading towards an exciting conclusion, the competition for places in the Ireland squad continues to intensify.

A number of new faces have pushed their way into the reckoning already this season, and Ireland’s first ever autumn international clash with England has seen six new caps make the starting line-up and five more earn places on the bench.

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Tom Tierney feels there is no better test for debutant wingers Jeamie Deacon and Mairead Coyne or new second row duo Elaine Anthony and Ciara Cooney than facing the reigning World champions in their own backyard.

“There’s no point playing teams that you know you’re going to beat, and you’re not going to get any learnings or teachings out of it,” Tierney told RTÉ 2fm’s ‘Game On’.

“Going up against England away from home, in London…the Irish Women’s team has never beaten England away from home which is quite understandable because England are obviously one of the top teams in the world and are the reigning World champions.

“It’s about pitting ourselves against the best away from home this coming weekend, and giving a lot of opportunity to new players to see how they handle the next level, which is international level, so that we can build as big a squad and as competent a squad as possible going into the Six Nations next year and the World Cup in 2017.”

With Ireland building towards the defence of their Six Nations crown in the spring and their Sevens counterparts preparing to play in the World Series, squad depth is vital for both Irish sides to be as competitive as possible in their respective tournaments.

It has been a key focus for Anthony Eddy, Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby, and Tierney since they were appointed by the IRFU last December.

“Our goal, myself and Anthony, coming into our roles less than a year ago was to be competitive but also be successful in both forms of the game – both Sevens and Fifteens,” explained the Limerick man.

“We really highlighted the fact that if we can be competent in both forms of the game and successful in both forms of the game, it’s only going to be better for growing the sport here in Ireland and making it more accessible to younger players, but also challenging in competitions and challenging for trophies. That’s the dual purpose of our tenure.”

Playing Test matches outside of the usual Six Nations and World Cup windows is a welcome move for all involved. It gives Tierney and his fellow coaches a timely opportunity to try out combinations and plays and expose new players to the international game.

Indeed, the girls in green will also meet Wales in an away friendly tie on Sunday, January 24, before the Celtic rivals open the Six Nations against each other at Donnybrook on Saturday, February 6.

Asked about his charges playing an inaugural November international, Tierney admitted: “It just shows the steps that are being taken in building up the Women’s game, obviously with the World Cup announced for 2017 here in Ireland.

“It’s a huge step forward and a great opportunity for the girls who are involved (this weekend). On top of all that, it’s a huge plus for the growth of the Women’s game in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the England team to face Ireland at the Stoop has been announced. There are three changes – World Cup winners La Toya Mason and Emma Croker, and tighthead Justin Lucas – to the side that lost 11-0 away to France last weekend. England v Ireland match tickets are available to buy here.