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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Briggs Hails Cronin As ‘A Huge Addition To The Squad’

Briggs Hails Cronin As ‘A Huge Addition To The Squad’

Monday was another proud day in the career of star full-back Niamh Briggs as she was named Ireland captain for the forthcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin and Belfast.

This will be the third occasion for Niamh Briggs to appear at World Rugby’s global showpiece – she has an impressive tally of 69 points to her name from the 2010 and 2014 tournaments – but it will be the first time that she leads her country into battle on the WRWC stage.

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Injury problems have restricted Briggs to just one international 15s appearance since the conclusion of the 2016 Six Nations, but with a warm-up encounter with Spain on the horizon this week, she is hoping to increase her match sharpness as the August 9 kick-off looms.

“I’m hoping to get game-time now against Spain (down in Cork), if I get picked. I’ve been training away, and the training has been really intense. It’s been quite difficult but it’s been really enjoyable too. I’m definitely fresh and fighting fit, and I’m really looking forward to what’s coming down the track,” said Briggs, speaking at yesterday’s Ireland WRWC 2017 squad announcement in UCD.

While Old Belvedere have the highest representation in the 28-strong Irish squad for the World Cup, with seven players in total, Briggs is one of a quintet of UL Bohemians players to be selected. Amongst those is uncapped scrum half Nicole Cronin, and Briggs believes that Cronin – otherwise known as ‘Spud’ – is a great asset to the girl in green.

“Nicole is a super player. She offers us a huge amount of experience. She was on a soccer scholarship in America, then she came back and played Sevens with Ireland. She excelled there, got a clean bit of health and since then she came into our squad. She’s been a huge addition both on and off the field.

“She’s a very good personality to have around. She’s quick, a very good footballer, and it just adds another feather to our bow. She’ll definitely be pushing for a starting spot. Being uncapped is more down to logistics than anything else, she’s a super player,” she added.

Slotting back in as captain after being injured for this year’s Six Nations, Briggs will be expected to bring her undoubted leadership qualities as she looks to drive the team on. However, with a number of players returning from previous World Cup campaigns, she acknowledges that the responsibility will be shared throughout the group.

“There is a good core of us who have played in the last couple of World Cups together, so it’s that experience that we can bring as a group rather than one individual player. We’ve spoken about it already in terms of the recovery period between each game being hugely important.

“Because when you get to a stage like a World Cup, then all the hard work has been done and everyone has prepared as best as they can. It’s just how you manage yourself in between it. I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved in such a group that has been around for quite a bit, and a really good core group of players, that any of the girls can go to in terms of experiences and can share that out.”

With a series of rigorous training camps having taken place at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, head coach Tom Tierney feels that this is best prepared Ireland Women’s side in history. Briggs agreed that the strength in depth is reaching new levels, while also acknowledging the efforts of those who did not make the final squad.

The ace goal-kicker insisted: “We’ve got to be accountable for our own performances and I think that’s really important. We’ve a responsibility on our own shoulders now with a squad of 28 to be able to do ourselves justice, but also the girls who didn’t make it. That’s really, really important. We’ve pushed really hard at training.

“The 28 that’s picked is probably the strongest that we’ve had in terms of strength in depth at a World Cup, but it’s also a huge contribution from the girls that haven’t made it. I’d echo the same sentiments as Tom, I don’t think there should be any excuses for us. I think we need to go out and take ownership and responsibility, and be accountable for our performances.”

For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for #WRWC2017 now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.