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Ireland Women Aiming For ‘Improved Performance’ On Donnybrook Return

Ireland Women Aiming For ‘Improved Performance’ On Donnybrook Return

Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs insists that it is all about performance for his side in their Women’s Six Nations encounter with Italy at Donnybrook today (kick-off 1pm).

Tickets for the Ireland Women’s home games in Donnybrook are available now via www.ticketmaster.ie. The IRFU is offering a bus subsidy of up to 400 euro per club for private transport hire. For more information on the bus subsidy for the 2018 Women’s Six Nations, contact womensrugby@irfu.ie before purchasing tickets.

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Following their comprehensive four-try loss to France eight days ago, Adam Griggs is eager for Ireland to bounce back against the Azzurre. The New Zealander watched Italy’s 42-7 opening round defeat to England with great interest, and has a good idea of what to expect in his first home game in charge.

“It’s all about performance for us this week, and if we can get a good performance, individually and collectively, I think the result will take care of itself. We’re certainly under no illusions. Watching England play Italy last week, and it’s seven points apiece at half-time and Italy are right in the game,” said Griggs, speaking during the build-up to this afternoon’s round 2 fixture.

“We know they’re going to have a strong pack certainly, and they take it to you in the backs as well. We’re under no illusions how tough it will be, but I do believe if we can put that performance together, cut down some of our mistakes, then we should be good to go.”

The 35-point gap between Italy and the defending Six Nations champions did not offer a true reflection on the state of play at Stadio Mirabello. Equally, Griggs believes there were also positives for Ireland to take from the French game, despite failing a register point over the course of the contest.

“I don’t think we need to change a lot. I think it’s more cut down some of the individual errors that we had. Certainly our defence and our tackle technique is one thing that we need to look at, because when we were reviewing the game, a lot of our systems were actually quite good. It was just little individual mistakes that kind of cost us.

“The same in attack. We were pressing on their try-line a few times, and we’d knock a ball on and let them off the hook. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel this week so much. Just really hone in on those individual errors, and make sure we cut those down for this week.”

Of the three personnel changes Griggs has made to his starting line-up, one of them has unfortunately been enforced. Ciara Cooney’s ankle injury against France has led to a switch into the second row for Paula Fitzpatrick, who captained the side during last year’s Six Nations.

Although he is not yet certain if she requires surgery, Griggs expects Cooney to be absent for the remainder of the Championship. “She will be out for the rest of the Six Nations. A lot of damage on her ankle. At the moment, she has had scans, but (we’re) waiting to see if she needs surgery or not. But I can’t see her being involved in the rest of the Six Nations. A complete tear,” he explained.

“I wouldn’t know the exact medical terms, but both sides of her ankle she has torn ligaments, so it’s not looking good. At the time we thought it was broken, but then X-rays showed no break. Sometimes you’d actually rather a break than the ligaments. It’s going to be a bit of a road back for her, I think.”

In this period of transition for the Ireland Women’s squad, it is expected that more and more players will get their chance to shine in the green jersey. Following her debut appearance on the right wing last weekend, Leinster’s Megan Williams is joined in the back-line by her Old Belvedere club-mates Sene Naoupu and Alison Miller.

The uncapped duo of Galwegians’ Edel McMahon and Michelle Claffey, the Blackrock captain, have also been promoted to the replacements bench as part of Griggs’ policy to base matchday selection on form shown in training.

“Edel gets a crack this week. She has come from playing with Connacht in the Interprovincial Championship, and she really was outstanding. I’ve always said I want to reward on form. She came into the training camp, she has trained really well. Bit of luck for her, I suppose, that Ciara has gone down. Hopefully she’ll get some game-time and get a cap, but I’ve been pretty impressed with her so far.

“Again, Michelle for the last two years for me and Leinster has been one of our best players. She’s been outstanding. Just reward for her tipping away. If she can get some game-time it would be nice for her, but we’ll see how it goes.”