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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Miller Looking To Make The Most Of Home World Cup

Miller Looking To Make The Most Of Home World Cup

With just over three weeks to go until the beginning of the tournament, Ireland’s preparations for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup are beginning to intensify.

Tom Tierney’s squad have been training at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown in the build-up to their opening pool match against Australia on Wednesday, August 9. They won two trial games last month against Japan whom they will also face in the pool stages.

Potent winger Alison Miller missed out on the uncapped clashes with Japan because of injury, but now back to full fitness, she is eager to make an impression in training as the countdown continues to the Women’s World Cup.

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“I had an injury. I wasn’t playing in them, so looking forward to getting back involved now. I suppose in rugby it’s an interesting one. You’d be lucky as a player not to have injuries at some stage,” said Miller, speaking at the GPO last Thursday where a special postage stamp, bearing Ireland captain Niamh Briggs, was unveiled to celebrate Ireland’s hosting of the World Cup this year.

“I’m over that now and looking forward to obviously more training. We still have a lot of training to do, and obviously pending selection, I’m looking forward to the games coming ahead.”

The girls in green will be eager to hit the ground running in their World Cup opener against Australia whom they previously faced at the 1998 and 2006 competitions. Ireland lost 21-0 the Wallaroos in Amsterdam 19 years ago, before narrow losing out (18-14) in a 7th-8th place play-off in Canada eight years later.

Because they do not play many tests outside of the World Cup, it is difficult to build in-depth analysis of the Australian side, but Miller is expecting a strong challenge from them at the UCD Bowl in a few weeks’ time.

“You do obviously a lot of video analysis yourself as a player. Australia are obviously going to be a hard team to analyse because they don’t play too many Test games really. I know they played the series against Canada, New Zealand and England (last month), but I suppose their squad changed.

“You don’t know what squad they’re going to put out, but obviously they’re a strong rugby nation. Australia in all codes, or types of rugby, they’d be strong. We don’t know as much about them as other nations, but we do know they’re going to be a very, very good team.

“You just get ready for that. You prepare your team as best as you can, and we play the best rugby that we can to counteract that. Obviously being in mind of their threats and danger players,” added the 32-year-old, who scored the 19th Six Nations try of her career earlier this year.

After many seasons playing with her home club Portlaoise, Miller is now lining out with Old Belvedere in Dublin. She is joined in the current Ireland squad by seven of her club-mates, and agrees that this is a huge advantage when it comes to playing on the international stage.

“Yeah, I’m playing with Old Belvedere. The first year with Old Belvedere. I was with Portlaoise since I started playing rugby, so I learnt a lot there and made a lot of great friends. I would have been proud of coming from Portlaoise. We were a very, very low division team when I started playing rugby, and we went all the way up to Division 1 with a lot of the girls in that team.

“It was a huge achievement. It was great to play and get the opportunity with Portlaoise. Obviously playing now with Old Belvedere is great. It’s great to play with the likes of Nora Stapleton, Maz Reilly, Ailis Egan, Jenny Murphy, Sophie Spence. To play with those people, and to train with those people, is hugely beneficial.”

Miller was a key player in Ireland’s most recent World Cup odyssey in 2014, scoring a famous try in the left corner during the historic 17-14 pool victory over New Zealand in Marcoussis. However, the tournament unravelled for them in the knockout stages with defeats to eventual champions England and hosts France.

She acknowledged that that was a big disappointment after the high of their win against the Black Ferns, but she believes the 2017 squad are capable of going one step further to reach the final in Belfast next month.

“Ultimately it was disappointment in that semi-final (against England). It’s a huge thing. You’ve beaten New Zealand, you’re going from a high, and then you’re going to a low – losing considerably to England,” she admitted.

“To go from that high to that low is disappointing, but we then played the 3rd-4th place play-off against France, and played well again. It would be brilliant to replicate that, and obviously we want to go further than that.

“It’s hugely competitive, and all the teams in the World Cup are looking to do the same thing. We just have to concentrate on ourselves, game-to-game. You don’t get past the first game, and I think you just think about the first game. That’s what we did in the last World Cup. It would be fantastic to go one step further to a final.”

Tickets for the semi-final and final stages in Belfast are available from www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017.