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'The world is her oyster,' as Ireland star Wall returns to hit Six Nations goal

The 21-year-old is back to her best after an injury lay-off.

Dorothy Wall.
Dorothy Wall.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THAT DOROTHY WALL is back firing on all cylinders is a huge boost for Ireland ahead of their 2022 Six Nations campaign.

The new chapter opens against Wales at the RDS on Saturday [KO 4.45pm, live on Virgin Media One] and while there’s been plenty of change as the Greg McWilliams era begins, Wall remains in situ as a pivotal member of the back row.

The 21-year-old missed the Autumn Internationals through injury, but McWilliams’ words today show just how important her return is to the squad.

“First, she’s got good leadership,” the new head coach said this afternoon. “You’ve got trust that every time that she’s training, or every time she’s working in the analysis room or she’s on the rugby field, that she’s giving everything that she can.

“I think a point of difference, you have to look at her footwork and her explosive impacts on the game. She’s got good high HMLs, so she’s got the ability to provide impact. And I think in a back row, you’re always looking to have a good blend. Between Dorothy, Edel McMahon at seven, and then Brittany Hogan at eight, I think that’s a really good blend that will work well together. Selection isn’t just about the individual, selection is about the group and how they fit with each other.

Dorothy has a big role to play for us and she’s going to be somebody that we’re excited to see play and we’re excited to see grow. The world is her oyster, and as long as she starts believing in herself and backing her skill set, we’re gonna see a special player.”

The 2021 Irish Rugby Women’s Players’ Player of the Year and Women’s Young Player of the Year and a well-established Sevens star, Wall followed McWilliams in the hot-seat for media duties ahead of this weekend’s clash and there was a palpable sense of positivity in the air.

“There’s great excitement in the squad, and myself as well,” the Tipperary woman began.

“I’ve kind of been thinking about this since the start of October, after having a few surgeries on my finger. The solo training and the sessions by yourself, you’re thinking of the first Six Nations match.

“You’re trying to get on the squad, you’re trying to get on the team, and then you’re trying to get on the pitch and show what you’re made of. So that was a major goal for me from last October until right now.”

It was hard during the Novembers because you wanted to play with the team and obviously Junior [former captain Ciara Griffin] retired and I would love to have played with her,” she added.

“In terms of the injury, it was my finger so I could keep my body going, I could run, I could do a full body gym [session] and that was huge for me, that physically I could keep myself going.

“I think every athlete goes through it at some stage where they’re by themselves and you’re pushing yourself to get back into that team environment. I’m not an outlier, it happens to everyone so it’s just how you deal with that adversity to get back on the pitch, and to know that you’re going to be with the group again and you’re going to get to play again.”

dorothy-wall Wall in Ireland training today. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Remarkably, it was only in recent weeks that Wall won her first club cap with Blackrock College.

The women’s game is so different, in that so many players represent their country — more often than not on the Sevens circuit — before their club.

“I was in the Sevens game for four years and that really fast-tracked my education in terms of my skills and my appreciation for hard work,” Wall explained.

“The hard work that goes in in the Sevens is unbelievable — and 15s, but you kind of got thrown in there at 18 and you sank before you swam but you learned how to swim because you had to.

The likes of Lucy Mulhall is just a different breed in terms of her work-rate and how hard she can push herself mentally and physically, so you kind of aspire to that level of just absolute ruthlessness, I suppose, in how you work.”

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Mulhall joins Wall in the XV for Saturday’s clash, as Ireland get off the mark.

While Wakes are among the nations with the World Cup as their immediate focus, their hosts’ is slightly different.

McWilliams and his group have made no secret of the fact that they must look at the bigger picture and long-term vision, with a quick-fix or results far from the priority.

“I think we’re trying to get the best out of ourselves,” Wall stressed. “It’s a very positive team environment at the moment. We’re ticking our boxes. There’s a great sense of camaraderie. I’m really enjoying myself. I think the whole team is.

“It feels like a new chapter for women’s rugby. And I think the other thing is we have absolutely nothing to lose, and that’s really dangerous in a team if you ask me.”

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Emma Duffy

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