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Breen keen on England test after 'unbelievable' experience in Musgrave Park

The 22-year-old UL Bohs centre could come into the starting XV this weekend.

Enya Breen with her nephew, Ollie, at Musgrave Park.
Enya Breen with her nephew, Ollie, at Musgrave Park.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

IRELAND’S MOST RECENT game was a special one for the entire squad simply for the fact that they got their first win of the Six Nations, but also because it was played in front of a buzzing crowd at Musgrave Park in Cork.

The venue was even more special for Enya Breen, who came off the bench for Ireland in the second half.

The 22-year-old is a Cork native who started playing rugby with the minis in Carrigaline RFC before her family’s move out to Skibbereen in her youth meant switching to Bantry Bay RFC.

“It was unbelievable,” says Breen of getting to play in Cork. “I grew up going to Musgrave Park, down to Munster games.

“I’d played there in a Munster jersey before but it was very special stepping out in an Irish jersey to play an international Test there in front of family and friends. It was a massive occasion and great to be a part of it.”

Having been used off the bench so far in this Six Nations, 12-times capped Breen is in line for her first start of the championship on Sunday against England.

Opportunities have opened up with the departure of five of the Irish starting backline for Ireland 7s duty, meaning Breen may come into a new-look midfield.

aoibheann-reilly-enya-breen-and-aoife-doyle Aoibheann Reilly, Enya Breen, and Aoife Doyle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With a new back three also coming in, Ireland will have to look for cohesion quickly but Breen doesn’t see it as being a problem.

“It’s not really a new backline as we’ve all been involved in camp the last two months, people in and out and training on Tuesday nights,” she explains.

“We’ve all been on the fringes waiting for an opportunity if we get it.”

Having initially burst through as a centre, Breen has also been covering out-half for Ireland over the past year.

She’s more than happy to play wherever head coach Greg McWilliams wants to deploy here, but her preference is for the centre spots.

“I’m happy once I’m on the park but I love playing midfield, I love playing in the centre,” says Breen.

“It provides me with some freedom to play ball and see what opportunities are there. But if you asked me to play front row I would, I’ll take what I can get!

“I’m able to play out-half, I’ve experience at 12 and 13. Obviously I’ll step in wherever I’m asked. In any midfield position, you have to be able to play ball. You have to be able to see space.

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“It’s all the same principles – you’re directing a backline, a captain of play I suppose, and you have to boss around forwards, be assertive. I think that’s something I’ve worked on in the last few weeks and hopefully it comes to fruition over the weekend.”

enya-breen Breen looks set to come into Ireland's midfield. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Taking on England in front of what is set to be a record crowd in Leicester on Sunday will be a huge ask for this Irish team, given the quality of players they have lost and, more pertinently, the sheer quality of the English side.

But Breen says the Irish players are embracing the scale of the challenge as they look to give the best team in the world a few frights.

“You have to be excited about it. Yes, it’s going to be a massive challenge but they’re the best team in the world and if we want to put ourselves up on that level, we kind of have to be excited about it.

“There’s no point in being afraid because that’s when we’ll start going into our shells so we have to be excited and hopefully if I get an opportunity to play, then that’s what I’ll do. There’s no point in playing with fear.”

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Murray Kinsella

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