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Griggs: Selecting Same Team Is Reward For Last Week’s Good Start

Griggs: Selecting Same Team Is Reward For Last Week’s Good Start

Ireland Women's head coach Adam Griggs is pictured directing operations at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Blanchardstown ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

After seeing his side start their campaign in such convincing fashion, Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs feels continuity is the best course of action as they look to overcome France in Saturday’s Six Nations showdown.

Griggs has named an unchanged team for the clash at Energia Park, which comes a week on from their 45-0 win over Wales. Eve Higgins, who won her first cap in Cardiff, features again at outside centre.

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Speaking about the team selection, the New Zealander said: “We’ve talked about some cohesion with the starting side. We look at last week’s performance, we got off to a really good start in that first half.

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“It’s really how we want to play the game. Giving them that opportunity against the French this weekend was really key, that they’re rewarded for the good start they had.

“Looking forward to this week, as I’ve alluded to, the second half performance (last week) probably dropped off a little bit.

“I think that’s natural in terms of we haven’t played for a long time and while the first half was sharp and we executed what we wanted to, there’s probably a focus on maintaining that.

“Those 10 minutes before half-time and 10 minutes after are really important to us, to make sure that we maintain what we laid our platform on last week.”

There is some movement on the bench with hooker Emma Hooban back in an Ireland matchday squad for the first time since March 2019. Tipperary’s Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe is also listed amongst the replacements.

Murphy Crowe will make her 15s international debut if called upon, and Griggs believes she is beginning to come to terms with her transition from the Sevens set-up, where she has shone on the World Series circuit for several seasons.

I think there’s no secret of Amee-Leigh’s athletic ability and how dynamic (she is). She has that X-factor that she brings to the Sevens stage. I know we spoke last week about her still learning some of the intricacies of the game.

“We had her in with us last week, she travelled to Wales so that she could get a good feel for preparation in terms of a Test match and then obviously what it was all about on game day.

“To give her an opportunity this week at home, it’s important that it’s another step in her learning. If she can get on the park, I’m sure it will be good for her.”

It has been quite some time since the Ireland Women last faced France. A third round encounter in Dublin back in March 2019 is the most recent meeting of the two sides, a game that ended 47-17 in favour of les Bleues.

They were due to meet in a rescheduled 2020 Six Nations tie last October, only for it to be cancelled for Covid-related reasons. Rather than it being a concern that they do not have any closer reference point for this French outfit, Griggs is hoping to use it as an advantage.

“I think it has actually added a bit of energy to us,” he admitted. “Because the last couple of times we were due to play France, it has been called off.

“We’ve spoken about testing ourselves against world class opposition. France are ranked fourth in the world and you see them compete regularly with the likes of England and their Test matches.

“For us, we’re really excited just to see where we’re at in our journey and see how we match up. I think getting a good start last week has given us some confidence that we can certainly cause an upset when they come here on Saturday.”

Nonetheless, Griggs is aware of how potent a force this French team is and the threats they can pose throughout the field.

“You look at (Pauline) Bourdon at nine and (Caroline) Boujard on the wing, two players that we’re going to have to make sure we keep a lid on early on.

“Again, we’ve really got to target slowing down their ball. I think if they get front-foot ball, they can become very dangerous on attack.

“Around that breakdown, making sure that we can disrupt it early on and not give them the platform to use that ball out wide is really important. Similarly, I think for us in terms of attack, it’s being patient and earning that right to play.

“We probably overplayed a few times last week and that’s probably how the game opened up, but I know this week will be a different test. We have to make sure that we build that platform first, stay patient before we look to expose them out wide if we can.”

Of course, Ireland have their own attacking weapon in the form of Ballinasloe teenager Beibhinn Parsons. Just nine caps in, she already has five tries to her name – including last week’s brace against Wales.

Having worked alongside Parsons for a number of years, Griggs is excited by her development and acknowledges there is more to come from her. He added:

She is getting a lot of attention, but I think as you’ve probably heard, she’s quite mature for her age. Obviously I’ve been with Beibhinn since she burst onto the scene.

“I was involved with her in the (Ireland) Under-18 Sevens set-up as well. We’ve known each other a while now and worked together. I think she’s handling it quite well.

“I guess the side of it that we need to be prepared for is, with that attention and how well she’s done, is that she’s going to come across a lot stronger defence this weekend. If I was coaching on the opposite side, I’d be putting two defenders on her to make sure that she’s marked up well.

“We’ve got to make sure that we can bring her into the game in other ways and not just some of the highlight-reel stuff we saw last week. It’s going to take more of an effort to grind them down.

“She’s capable of that and that’s probably where she’s still learning a little bit and just understanding her role. How she can be a threat in other areas of the field, rather than just waiting on the wing for the ball.”