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Tommy Dickson/INPHO Moloney on the run against Scotland in 2018.
# 6 Nations
Moloney feeling sharper after injury and exile
The Wasps hooker missed last year’s Six Nations through injury and is eager to sting Scotland.

‘JANUARY’S A LONG month,’ says Cliodhna Moloney and we can all agree with the sentiment.

The Ireland hooker is itching to get back in Six Nations Championship action this Sunday (kick-off 1pm) in Donnybrook after missing out last year’s dispiriting campaign with a shoulder injury.

Much has changed for the Galway woman since her last outing in the tournament.

She took the field against England in 2018 attached to Railway Union, but now in her second year with Wasps and over a shoulder injury, she can feel a noticeable difference in her game brought about by both.

She remains an abrasive front row forward in both set-piece and the loose, but Moloney is making a concerted effort to think around hurdles more than charge into them.

“I probably have changed a little bit as a player probably due to my injury and the nature of that. I had very heavy surgery on my shoulder, which was difficult to come back from,” says the hooker.

“I had to look at the way I coming into contact and stuff. That all had to change.”

A lot of times I was looking for contact, not looking for space.

“Not that I wouldn’t take the contact now if I have to, but just looking for softer shoulders, looking for an easier gainline, not haring straight into people.”

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While the IRFU controlled competitions have stepped up a notch in recent years, Moloney can feel the benefit of the higher grade of week-in, week-out competition before her in the Women’s Premiership with Wasps.

“It might be the speed that I can operate at,” says the 26-year-old when we ask how the improvement has manifested.

“Not in terms of how quickly I’m running, but how quickly I think on and off the ball. If you’re playing a quicker game week in, week out over there, you need to be able to react quicker. It’s probably that which has improved more than anything else.”

cliodhna-moloney Dan Sheridan / INPHO Moloney in Abbottstown yesterday. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“The games are hugely competitive over there. There’s a lot of very good players. Not just from England, from all over the world. Most of the Scots are playing in that league, the Welshies are playing in that league. You’ve got a couple of Italians and French coming over as well. It’s highly competitive and I’m training during the week, which is brilliant as well.

“Every team in the Tyrrell Premiership 15s will have 60 players on their books, so we always have really high numbers. There’s always someone to train with for whatever you want to work on. I’ve always had an Irish team-mate over there. Last year I had Claire Molloy, this year I’ve got Edel McMahon. It’s important from that respective too, that you can focus on what you need to before you get back at the weekend over the water.”

In the long month of January, it can feel a long trek back for Ireland training camps. Though no longer than the road captain Ciara Griffin takes from Kerry. The Exiles, with forwards coach Steve McGinnis in their midst, at least know they can travel in numbers, beginning prep even before they move directly from the airport to the new Abbottstown training base.

“There’s a good gang of us travelling over and back too, which helps. You’re not sitting in the airport on your own. That time’s not wasted either. Someone will have a laptop, you can sit down and do your work. See what you need to be working on for the next week. That’s always helpful.”

Seeing the back of January and finally getting stuck in to Scotland will help this side no end too.

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