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'We're under no illusions how tough it will be:' Ireland preparing for tricky Italian job
Ireland are looking to get back to winning ways in the Six Nations against Italy.

Adam Griggs Gary Carr / INPHO Ireland Women's Head Coach Adam Griggs. Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Adam Griggs says his side are preparing for another tough assignment this Sunday, when they host Italy in Donnybrook in the second round of their Six Nations campaign [KO, 1pm RTÉ2].

A new-look Ireland side were held scoreless by France last weekend, and will now face an Italian side who were level with reigning champions England at half-time in their opening Six Nations tie, before ultimately suffering a 7-42 defeat at the Stadio Mirabello.

Ireland shipped 24 points to France and despite breaking into the host side’s ’22 on four occasions, they failed to profit from their efforts as a result of handling errors.

Griggs is hopeful that his charges can reduce those mistakes this weekend.

“I don’t think we need to change a lot,” he told The42, ”it’s more [to] cut down on some of the individual errors that we had, certainly our defence and our tackle technique is something we need to look at because when we were reviewing the game, a lot of our systems were actually quite good, it was just little individual mistakes that kind of cost us, and the same in attack.

Jade Le Pesq on her way to scoring a try despite the efforts of Nichola Fryday Bryan Keane / INPHO France’s Jade Le Pesq racing in to score a try. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“We were pressing on their try line a few times and we’d knock a ball on and let them off the hook. So, I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel this week much, but just really hone in on those individual errors and make sure we cut those down for this week.”

The New Zealander added that nerves played a part in their poor performance against France, due to the 10,000 strong home support cheering on Les Bleus in Toulouse. He says that returning to Donnybrook for the first of their three home Six Nations fixtures should help improve the standard of their display. 

“It’s all about performance for us this week and if we can get a good performance individually and collectively, I think the result will take care of itself. But [we're] certainly under no illusions, watching England play Italy last week and it’s seven all at half-time and Italy were right in the game.

We know they’re going to be a strong pack certainly, and they take it to you in the backs as well. We’re under no illusions how tough it will be but I do believe if we can put that performance together, cut down on some of our mistakes then we should be good to go.”

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Griggs has made three changes to the starting XV, with sevens player Katie Fitzhenry coming into the sid to partner Sene Naoupu in the centre. Meanwhile, Paula Fitzpatrick and Nichola Fryday will replace Ciara Cooney and Orla Fitzsimons as second row partners.

Cooney was stretchered off in the second-half of that French game after suffering a heavy fall. Griggs confirmed that Cooney has suffered serious ankle ligament damage as a result of the injury, and will be sidelined for the rest of the Six Nations championship.

Ciara Cooney is stretchered off with an injury Bryan Keane / INPHO Ciara Cooney raises her hand to the crowd as she is stretchered off in the second-half of Ireland's Six Nations defeat to France. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“She’ll be out for the rest of the Six Nations, a lot of damage on her ankle, it’s a complete tear [of the ligaments.]

“I don’t know the exact medical term but both sides of her ankle, she has torn ligaments on. At the moment she’s had scans, we’re waiting to see if she needs surgery or not but I can’t see her being involved in the Six Nations.

“At the time we thought it was broken, then x-rays showed no break, which sometimes you’d actually rather than the ligaments. It’s going to be a bit of a road back for her I think.”

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