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Anthony Eager For More After Making Six Nations Debut

Anthony Eager For More After Making Six Nations Debut

She made her Women’s RBS 6 Nations debut at Donnybrook yesterday, and now Highfield lock Elaine Anthony is hopeful that Ireland can finish the Championship on a high against Scotland next Sunday afternoon (kick-off 1pm).

Elaine Anthony linked up with the vastly-experienced Marie Louise Reilly in the Irish second row at home to Italy, and after making a significant impact during the 14-3 victory, she will be doing her utmost to retain her place in the side for the clash with Scotland.

“Unfortunately, there was a few inaccuracies today. However, we got the win. We got the win at home, in front of a good crowd, and we’re just really looking forward to tomorrow, finish out on a high next week,” said Anthony.

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“I really hope so (that I’ll retain my place). I know that from the moment I went out, I was ready to go. Enjoyed the game, and hopefully next week it’ll be the same story.”

While Anthony is the only active Highfield player in the Ireland squad, she is joined in the current set-up by the experienced Heather O’Brien, who played for the Cork outfit before transferring to Toulouse in September 2015.

Anthony acknowledged the positive effect that O’Brien has had on her own career, and the tone she sets for the younger players in the squad.

“Oh yeah, Heather from the start, from the very first day I met her, she’s just the definition of discipline and hard work, and a hugely positive player. Again, like I said, she’s always encouraging the next round of players. She works hard, she sets the tone, and you don’t get away with anything when she’s playing.”

Commenting on his team’s performance yesterday, Ireland head coach Tom Tierney said he was delighted with the win, and with three new caps on the pitch (Kim Flood, Liz Burke and Claire McLaughlin) and new combinations both up front and behind the scrum, he accepted that it was not going to be a perfect display.

“Yes, obviously delighted with the win. We knew going into the game that the Italians would be coming here and they would put it up to us in the first 10-15 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, I don’t think we got out of our 22, but to go down only 3-0 in that period was very, very important,” he admitted.

“We knew it was going to be a disjointed game at times, and thankfully we weathered those storms, and at critical moments we got our game-plan going, and our style of rugby and our phase play going that got us over the line.”

One of the big talking points in the build-up to the match was the decision to move captain Niamh Briggs and Sophie Spence from their regular positions of full-back and second row respectively. With new players integrated into the starting line-up, the pair were switched to outside centre and number 8, and Tierney was more than happy to explore these alternative options.

“Herself (Niamh Briggs) and Sophie (Spence) were the two senior players that were moving position. Again, we weren’t looking for the perfect performances, but we were just looking at glimpses of what they can do, and they’re very, very good ball carriers.

“It’s critical that when we’re building a squad like this, that we have the options, and we have the different variations needed in case anything happens.”

Sunday was also a day to remember for prop Lindsay Peat, who capped her first Six Nations start with her maiden try at this level. When you consider that the former Dublin Ladies Gaelic footballer has only taken up rugby in recent months, her development to date has been impressive, and Tierney also reserved praise for Kim Flood , who comes from a similar sporting background to Peat.

“Lindsay has only taken up the game for a few months, but again it just goes to show the natural football ability that a lot of players have, and that’s something that we’re very conscious of. Kim Flood making her first start here today at full-back, another Gaelic footballer.

“All of these things take time, and to play the style of rugby that we want to play, it does take time, and it takes learning. You’ve got to go through games like today, but I thought we were more than capable of putting in a performance at certain stages of the game, and thankfully we did,” he added.