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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 21 March, 2018

Ireland 'a work in progress' but limited prep time presents challenges ahead of Wales

Adam Griggs’ side host Wales at Donnybrook this afternoon.

Ireland coach Adam Griggs during yesterday's captain's run at Donnybrook.
Ireland coach Adam Griggs during yesterday's captain's run at Donnybrook.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

HEREIN LIES THE problem for Ireland and Adam Griggs.

Two error-strewn performances against France and Italy highlighted the defects in their basic skill sets — most notably passing and catching — but the squad only gathered on Friday morning to begin preparations for today’s clash with Wales [KO 3pm, RTÉ2].

“It’s very difficult,” the head coach admits. “You just have to make sure the girls come into camp switched on. You can’t keep them on their feet too long with a game in two days. You can’t work on every little thing so it is about honing in on what we have done well and touching up some of the things we weren’t doing quite as well.”

Executing the basics under pressure is a good place to start.

After a humbling experience in France on the opening weekend, the performance against Italy was much improved and the result reflected that but there were still areas of concern.

Griggs, as Leinster women’s coach, suggests an expansion of the current inter-provincial series, which would allow more players to gain more exposure to competitive rugby.

“I’m certainly an advocate for getting more inter-provincial games because I think that’s the level they need to be playing at week in week out,” the Kiwi said. “That’s where you get put under pressure with your skills.

“There is certainly a little bit of a knock on effect when you come into an international game.There is a different sort of pressure to a club or inter-provincial game. We try to replicate game situations in training as much as we can.”

And therein lies the problem.

Having had a mini-camp last weekend, Friday’s group session was the one and only chance for Griggs to get his players together en bloc to work on the things that need to be worked on.

Niamh Briggs Niamh Briggs will win her 60th cap against Wales. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“It’s a work in progress,” he continued. “We have only been together for a month or so and while I’m happy with what we are creating now, it is a matter of finishing and doing that under pressure.”

Early results suggest Ireland are playing for third place in this championship, and the head coach appears to agree.

“You got to look at the way France and England are going about it. They are possibly on a different level to us at the moment.”

Ireland’s focus is getting better themselves and the challenge posed by Wales at Donnybrook this afternoon. The loss of Ali Miller to a serious leg break is a significant blow, with the winger set to be out for between six and nine months.

Griggs has made four changes in total from the side which beat Italy, with Claire McLaughlin, Ciara O’Connor, Leah Lyons and Orla Fitzsimons all coming in as a ‘reward’ for the work they’ve put in.

Wales, like Ireland, have won one and lost one of their opening two outings and have made one change to their XV with fullback Lisa Neumann making her first start.


15. Kim Flood (Railway Union/ Leinster)
14. Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
13. Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
11. Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/ Ulster)
10. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian / Munster)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/ Leinster)

1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/ Leinster)
2. Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/ Connacht)
3. Leah Lyons (Highfield/ Munster)
4. Orla Fitzsimons (St Mary’s/ Leinster)
5. Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/ Connacht)
6. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/ Munster) (captain)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol)
8. Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s/ Leinster)


16. Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/ Leinster)
17. Laura Feely (Galweigians/ Connacht)
18. Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
19. Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/ Leinster)
20. Edel McMahon (Galwegians/ Connacht)
21. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/ Munster)
22. Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
23. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)


15. Lisa Neumann (Scarlets)
14. Hannah Bluck (Cardiff Blues)
13. Kerin Lake (Ospreys)
12. Rebecca De Filippo (Dragons)
11. Jess Kavanagh-Williams (RGC)
10. Elinor Snowsill (Dragons)
9. Rhiannon Parker (Cardiff Blues)
1. Caryl Thomas (Scarlets)
2. Carys Phillips (Ospreys)(captain)
3. Amy Evans (Ospreys)
4. Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
5. Mel Clay (Ospreys)
6. Alisha Butchers (Scarlets)
7. Beth Lewis (Scarlets)
8. Sioned Harries (Scarlets)


16. Kelsey Jones (Ospreys)
17. Cara Hope (Ospreys)
18. Meg York (Dragons)
19. Natalia John (Ospreys)
20. Nia Elen Davies (Scarlets)
21. Jade Knight (Scarlets)
22 Robyn Williams (Ospreys)
23. Hannah Jones (Scarlets)

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