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Carter Seeks Further Improvements From Forwards Against Italy

Carter Seeks Further Improvements From Forwards Against Italy

Ireland Women's assistant coach Jeff Carter spoke to the media ahead of the round 3 trip to Parma ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Having bounced back to winning ways against Scotland last time out, the Ireland Women are determined to back up that result when they play Italy this weekend in their second successive away trip of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations.

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The third round clash in Parma on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm local time/6.45pm Irish time) pits fourth-placed Ireland against the Azzurre, who sit second in the table after defeating Scotland 28-7 in Glasgow and drawing three-all with Wales in Lecce. The girls in green carved out a similar result in Scotstoun, triumphing 22-5 over the Scots.

Reflecting on the team’s two outings so far, Ireland assistant coach Jeff Carter said: “We were very disappointed against England. We felt we didn’t perform to our standards. We had done a good bit of homework, we had been training quite well and we just felt physically we were blown out of it a little bit.

“I wouldn’t even use them (England) being together for the last month, professional and whatever, as an excuse. When they’re able to bring back in the quality of Emily Scarratt and Sarah Bern, these girls who didn’t play against us in November, we knew it was going to be tough.

“We had an extra day (beforehand) in Scotland, which was fantastic. There was a real sense of togetherness there. We trained three times, which is great for us. They bounced back and really showed a great energy, driven by (captain) Ciara Griffin and the girls.”

Given the physical battle that awaits them in Italy, the return of Lindsay Peat to full fitness is a welcome boost. Having missed out on the England and Scotland games with a shoulder/neck injury, the Railway Union and Leinster prop is on course to play this week. Carter is also confident that flanker Claire Molloy can shake off a quad issue in time.

“Lindsay is available for selection, so she’s delighted to be back. It’s been a difficult three or four weeks for her because all Lindsay wants to do is play. We’re gradually trying to introduce her back into it, so we’re hoping to have her available on Saturday night.

“We’re looking good. We have a slight little concern about Claire Molloy maybe, but she should be fine. She pulled her quad a little bit against Scotland but she should be okay. She’s as tough as nails,” noted the Kilkenny College teacher.

One of the plus points to come out of the England game was the Irish scrum and they duly put Scotland to the sword in ruthless fashion. As a set piece specialist, Carter works in tandem with scrum coach Mike Ross to create a pack which is certainly packing a punch of late.

I was a bit worried in the warm-up in Glasgow with the wind and rain that it might go pear-shaped, but credit to Leah (Lyons) and Aoife (McDermott), they chose the right calls in the lineout at the right time. We backed up the scrum after some good play there against the English.

“It means nothing if we make mistakes against the Italians, though. It’s important that we improve and hit those 100% targets as we try to do every time. Myself and Mike are trying to marry the two (lineout and scrum) together as much as we can. In training, we would maybe go five minutes scrum, five minutes lineout.

“We try to keep the girls busy and thinking about different scenarios within the set piece. We’ve found that’s worked quite well this year. I help him out a little bit and he helps me out a little bit. It’s a good working team at the moment.”

On her seventh appearance at international level, increasingly-influential lock McDermott capped an accomplished performance with her first try for Ireland. The Sligo native’s stock continues to rise with each performance in green and Carter feels her meticulous attention to detail rivals that of Paul O’Connell.

“She’s a really smart girl, she likes her lineouts. She’s kinda Paul O’Connell-esque, she studies them. Myself and herself and Nichola (Fryday) generally have conversations most nights about what we can do. Things we need to change.

“We obviously have to change things at certain times because teams look at you and if you’re going to the front all the time, you need to change it a little bit. But we’re getting girls comfortable in positions now, lifting, jumping and making decisions. It’s a work in progress and something we’re striving towards,” he added.