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'They'll just be dying to get onto the pitch and do the nation proud'

Ireland international rugby player Kim Flood looks ahead to the Women’s World Cup.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND’S KIM FLOOD knows exactly how much work the women’s rugby squad has invested in preparing for the World Cup.

She played her part in their Six Nations campaign — which yielded a second-place finish behind England — and was involved in a 48-player training panel that was assembled in advance of this World Cup on home soil.

Flood witnessed how the players perfected their game ahead of the biggest tournament of their careers, and while she was disappointed not to make the final cut for the squad, she is eager to see what Tom Tierney’s side can achieve in this competition.

Flood, who will be working as part of eir Sport’s punditry team that will be covering the tournament, told The42:

“I’ve been away all summer with the sevens and we achieved so much. I was disappointed not to be involved with the squad but I thought I wasn’t 100% fit and I was carrying a bit of an injury over the last few months.

“That was obviously a factor in selection I’d imagine but I’m right behind the team and I’m really looking forward to watching the girls.

I can’t wait to watch them tomorrow night, they’ve been preparing all summer long for this tournament and it’s finally here. They’ll just be dying to get onto the pitch in front of the home crowd and do the nation proud.

Kim Flood Kim Flood pictured at the unveiling of eir Sport's broadcast team for the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“They’ll be looking forward to getting a game under their belt and getting going, and getting used to the crowd and the atmosphere that UCD is going to bring. It’s quiet at the moment, but it’ll be lively tomorrow.”

Ireland of course, were dealt a major setback last week, following the announcement that captain Niamh Briggs has been ruled out of the tournament due to an Achilles injury.

Flood admits that although the squad will naturally miss the leadership and skillset that she brings to the table, Ireland have already adapted to playing through a tournament without Briggs on the pitch.

It’s devastating for her not to be able to lead the squad into the World Cup tomorrow night, but she’ll have a huge part to play on the pitch I’m sure. She has been there throughout the whole summer.

“She was absent for the Six Nations and we still managed to win four out of five games, and losing to England in the championship decider. They would have had to prepare without Niamh this year, so they’ve had a taste of that. Other players will be stepping up as leaders.

Niamh Briggs Ireland's Niamh Briggs during a training session during the summer. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“They’ll definitely want to do it for her as well. She’ll give them as much support as she can as well. It is a huge blow because of the quality of player she is but at the same time, there’s enough players around the park who will step up and do her proud.”

Claire Molloy has been selected to take up the role of captaincy in the absence of Briggs, and Flood is confident that the experienced flanker is the ideal candidate for the job.

“I’m delighted to see Claire step into the role, she definitely has a huge World Cup in her and I’m dying to get to see her. She’s got loads of experience, she’s captained the sevens before and she’s been to two World Cups already.

“Claire is a huge player for Ireland and when she’s not on the pitch, you really notice it.

She knows what it’s about, she knows what to expect and she’ll be honoured and proud to lead that squad out. No better girl.”

Ireland’s first assignment of the World Cup is a Pool C clash against Australia tomorrow evening [UCD Bowl, 7pm].

Shannon Parry Australia's Shannon Parry pictured in UCD. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Flood has faced some of Australia’s World Cup contingent at sevens level in the past, and she predicts the Wallaroos will bring an aggressive and physical game-plan to the occasion.

We can expect them to be physical, they’ll attack the breakdown early and they’ll want huge collisions early on. They’ll put up a good fight. I think they’re weak enough around the set-piece area from what I’ve seen.

“I’m sure they’ve been working on that, to tighten up for the World Cup.

“I think they can get quite narrow in defence, so Ireland can probably threaten them out wide. If they suck them in, it will give the likes of Ali Miller, Eimear Considine and Hannah Tyrrell good opportunities out wide.”

eir Sport will show every Women’s Rugby World Cup Game, including all Irish games and the Final.

Ireland’s pool games in the UCD Bowl: Dublin against Australia on 9th August, Japan on 13th August and France on 17thAugust – all live on eir Sport.

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