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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

We Have To Hit The Ground Running – Tierney

We Have To Hit The Ground Running – Tierney

After unveiling his 28-strong squad for the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup yesterday, Ireland head coach Tom Tierney has his sights set on a tough opening pool game against Australia in just over two weeks’ time.

Tom Tierney was joined by Ireland Women’s captain Niamh Briggs at the UCD Cinema as he announced his selection for the tournament, with scrum half Nicole Cronin – a former Ireland Sevens Player of the Year – proving to be the only uncapped player to make the cut.

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With a number of players from their Sevens set-up coming back into contention, Tierney is acutely aware of the threat that Australia pose and knows that his charges need to hit the ground running on the night of Wednesday, August 9.

“Australia have a new management team, very experienced guys that we know a good bit about. We’re very clear about how they’re going to play, looking at how they played in the Women’s International Series in the early part of summer,” said the Limerick man, who played for Ireland at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

“The Australians are going to pose a big physical threat, especially up front. A lot of big powerful ball carriers and very direct. They’ve a number of Sevens players coming back in, so from a back-line they’ll be playing the ball with a bit of width. Very skilled, good ball handlers.

“It’l be a really tough international, but we’re delighted to have it first game up, because it focuses the mind. There’s no easy lead-in to this tournament. We have to hit the ground running straight away, which is very good from a prep point of view.”

Ireland are aiming to generate a raucous atmosphere for their pool games at the UCD Bowl – similar to their Grand Slam decider against England at Donnybrook on St. Patrick’s Day. While that encounter ultimately ended in defeat for the hosts, Tierney acknowledges that it was a valuable experience for a number of reasons.

“Obviously, the learnings that we took from that Grand Slam decider were worth their weight in gold, and it shaped a lot of our planning over the course of the next three months in camp. Putting the onus back on the players. We know that we can be competitive at certain stages of a game. Now it’s about just imposing ourselves a small bit more at the critical moments.

“That’s the learnings that we’ve taken out of that game. Obviously the atmosphere, the build-up, all the outside factors, that was a great thing to experience as well. Because again, if we play as well as we feel we should, and we can, we’re going to be there or thereabouts.”

Before the World Cup gets underway, Ireland will decamp to Cork’s Fota Island on Friday for a four-day camp to train and play against Spain as both sides complete their final preparations. This comes after two trial games against Japan in UCD last month, and although they will face the Japanese again in the second round next month, Tierney felt they were beneficial exercises for his squad.

“We wanted to find out about Japan. We did that. Also, having spent six days here, we stayed on site at UCD. We got to see where things might be problematic off the field, and also positive, so from that perspective it was very good,” he explained.

“We had certain things we wanted to do in those games, and certain things we didn’t do. We’ll plan accordingly for that match, and we’ve already a plan in place and a dossier on the Japanese. As we have on the Australians and the French. It was a hugely beneficial exercise, those days in UCD.”

This will be Tierney’s first World Cup as Ireland Women’s head coach – he replaced Philip Doyle following the conclusion of the 2014 tournament in which Ireland finished fourth. He accepted that the World Cup presents a great challenge to him as a coach, but is grateful to have a number of players with WRWC experience at his disposal.

“That’s one of the challenges, and that’s one of the things that we’ve worked very, very hard on. The beauty of it, obviously we’ve got Niamh’s experience, a number of girls who’ve been to two World Cups. We’ve got a number of girls who’ve been to one World Cup, the one in 2014.

“We have been working closely with those girls because they have plenty of experience in relation to that and through their own experiences, how things went right for them and how we might do a few things a small bit differently.

“We are working closely with the older players who have the experience, and we are looking to put a plan in place, so we are preparing properly for the Australia game and that’s the only focus on our mind,” added the 40-year-old former scrum half.

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.