Ireland captain Nichola Fryday is maintaining a positive outlook ahead of her side’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations final round clash with Scotland at Kingspan Stadium tonight (kick-off 8pm).
Despite suffering a heavy defeat to England last weekend, Fryday and her team-mates are focused on wrapping up the 2002 Championship with a second home win.
This is the Offaly native’s first season as captain of the national team and she is very determined to come out on the right side of the result in Belfast.
“I’m not going to lie. Last week’s loss, it was disappointing. While there were some really good positives, that scoreline does hurt,” admitted Fryday.
“We’ve come into this camp and we’ve had to park that, and turn it into energy and excitement for this week. Because we really want to end this campaign on a high.
“We want to get the win. It’s not going to be easy. Scotland, they haven’t got a win yet in this Six Nations, but they’re going to be hurting the same. They’re going to want to be putting in a performance on the pitch.
“We’ve just been trying to really focus on ourselves and make sure that we really put our best foot forward on Saturday. The main focus for us this weekend is just to go out and perform..”
Having combined with Sam Monaghan at lock for the opening three rounds, a calf injury sustained by the Meath woman meant Fryday was joined by Aoife McDermott in the second row for last week’s trip to Leicester.
However, Monaghan has regained full fitness and Fryday is delighted that she gets another chance to build on her impressive form to date in the green jersey.
“Sam brings another power element to the game. I’m looking forward to her getting back out there and getting big carries.
“She’s a calming influence in the set-piece as well. We’ve built that relationship over the last few weeks. I know how she jumps, I know how she lifts. I’m hoping it will run fluidly, but I’m excited for her to get back.
“I know she was absolutely gutted to miss last weekend. She has that bit of determination in her as well that she wants to come out and finish on a high.”
As has been mentioned at length in the build-up to it, this is Ireland’s first meeting with Scotland since last September’s Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament in Parma.
A last-gasp converted try from Chloe Rollie helped the Scots prevail 20-18 that night. While this is forming part of Ireland’s motivation for tonight’s game, they also have an eye on the bigger picture.
Fryday commented: “There’s girls there that are still kind of hurting from Parma and you can use that as a form of fuel, but a lot of the new girls, they just need to be excited at this challenge of potentially getting a second win in this campaign and experiencing that feeling.
“It’s about finding the right balance. I don’t want to be talking about something that happened nine, 10 months ago. This whole campaign we’ve been focused on looking forward and what we’re going to do in the future.
“It’s a balancing act. Making sure we do pull in that bit of emotion, but that it doesn’t overcome us. That we’re focused on the task ahead.”
As well as representing the end point of the Six Nations, the Belfast showdown also sees Ireland playing at a third different home venue for 2022.
All four of their matches to date in the competition – whether at home or away – have been played in front of big crowds, with Fryday finding their previous encounters with Wales at the RDS and Italy at Musgrave Park to be great occasions. She added:
That has been huge for us. To be down in Cork and Dublin, and to have record-breaking crowds in both venues. For us that is huge.
“It’s a 16th person for us on that pitch. We live off that crowd and the energy that they bring to the pitch for us.
“It has been really heart-warming as well to see the love of this team and of this sport, across the whole country with the crowds that have come out. We’re really excited again to get out now at home.”