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'He's got huge knowledge and he's got a great way about him in coaching us'

Ireland’s Cliodhna Moloney explains the positive impact of Mike Ross as the Six Nations continues this weekend.

WHEN IRELAND HOOKER Cliodhna Moloney speaks about Ireland’s expectations this season, she reiterates the importance of a ‘clean slate’ in the camp.

The Ireland team before the match Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

This consists of a new management set-up — led by head coach Adam Griggs — a new game plan, a new structure, and an influx of new talent following a number of retirements on the back of a disastrous World Cup.

Moving on from that difficult period is paramount for the Ireland team, although travelling to Toulouse for the opening round of their Six Nations campaign was a difficult starting point.

As part of the shake-up in the squad, former Ireland and Leinster prop Mike Ross has come on board as a scrum coach for the Six Nations campaign, although not a full-time basis.

He linked up with the players ahead of that first round clash against France, conducting five or six sessions before they headed off.

Mike Ross Mike Ross. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In a previous interview with The42, Ross explained that he will give his time and expertise to the squad when he can.

“I got a call from Anthony Eddy [IRFU director of women's and sevens rugby] a few weeks later and thought why not? It’s a nice thing to do, to give something back. The whole country is disappointed with how the World Cup went but if I can play a part in getting better it’ll be great.”

Moloney is enjoying his sessions so far, and is taking his lessons on board as Ireland head into the second round of their Six Nations campaign this weekend in Donnybrook against Italy. [KO Sunday 1pm, RTÉ2]

“It’s been brilliant, he’s got huge knowledge and he’s got a great way about him in coaching us and stuff. He’s just very simple and direct. The scrum is obviously a very technical thing but you can over-complicate it at times.

“The best motto he’s given us is that we need to go forward, he’ll tell us the simplest and best ways to do that and he’s been very good for us, particularly as a front row.”

Adam Griggs’ side did not open their Six Nations campaign as they would have liked, and brought home some wounded bodies back from the battlefield in the Stade Ernest Wallon last weekend.

Ciara Cooney suffered some serious ligament damage after a heavy fall, which will rule her out of the remainder of the Six Nations, according to Griggs.

Cyrielle Banet and Cliodhna Moloney Cliodhna Moloney in action for Ireland against France in the Six Nations. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland leaked 24 points to a powerful outfit, including three first-half tries. Meanwhile, the Irish visitors were unable to register a single point throughout the tie, although they threatened on several occasions to break the French resistance.

“Our lack of clinical play within the 22 was probably the most disappointing factor,” says Moloney.

“Obviously our defense left a lot to be desired as well but the fact that we couldn’t put any scores on the board was very hard,” she adds.

The defeat undoubtedly left mental bruises on the players, but it was also a visibly punishing encounter, as Ireland struggled to match France’s intense level of physicality.

Lindsay Peat told RTÉ Radio 1′s Seán O’Rourke show that she was barely able to move around on the plane journey home, such was the impact of clashes on her body.

Moloney, a fellow front row participant, can relate to what Peat was referring to.

“They were [physical] in attack and defense. I didn’t expect to be playing 80 minutes and I certainly didn’t expect to be playing 20 of it in the back row.

“Watching the review back, their technique of tackling and their technique of cutting off our offloads, chopping us low, driving us back, I think a high percentage of their tackles were positive tackles because we didn’t make any gain-line there.

Cliodhna Moloney Cliodhna Mooney. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“They’d great line speed, so they just cut everything down on us. We couldn’t really meet their force with what we wanted to at times. That’s probably where we fell down, but we were very sore.”

The turnaround time from that clash is swift, as is always the case in the Six Nations, and Ireland are now looking to that assignment against Italy

Moloney expects the visiting side to bring a tough game to Dublin, considering their first half performance against reigning champions England last weekend, which yielded a 7-7 half-time score.

This is the first of Ireland’s three home games in the championship, with Wales and Scotland to come along later, and Moloney is counting on the home support to help them get their score their first win of the campaign.

“They [Italy] put up a good 40 minutes against England last week, so we’ll have to have a look at their pack and have a look at their strengths and try and break them down in them areas early on, try and get them broken down a lot earlier than England did.

“They are obviously a very good team, they held England for 40 minutes and they are very physical. I’d say England bet them with fitness in the end and they just ran away with that but we’d be hoping to try and put our marker down early and get the crowd behind us in Donnybrook.

“It’ll be very important for us that we start well.”

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