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Nikki Caughey has double dream after injury nightmare

By Cian Tracey

Published 13/02/2016

On the up: Belfast girl Nikki Caughey is aiming high
On the up: Belfast girl Nikki Caughey is aiming high

In December 2014, when Tom Tierney took over as Ireland women's coach, his job brief was simple: attract as many girls as possible to play the sport while building on past success.

One player who Tierney had his eye on from day one was Nikki Caughey, who in August 2014 ruptured her cruciate ligament.

It was a crucial time in Belfast native Caughey's career and seven months out was the last thing she needed. Slowly but surely she regained her fitness, however, and seized her opportunity in last year's autumn international against England.

Being handed the No.10 jersey ahead of the vastly experienced Nora Stapleton for last week's opening Six Nations game against Wales was another massive boost for the 24-year-old, who again starts at out-half against France this evening.

"It adds to the pressure a bit but without competition you wouldn't excel," Caughey maintained. "There would be no improvement. Nora is great in training, she will still help me; she can see if I am struggling and can come over and tell me there is something I should change.

"Her experience brings a certain professionalism. She has been very good but it does add to the pressure. I'm not comfortable saying I am the starting 10 because I don't think that. I know she has had a few niggles and he (Tierney) is maybe minding her."

Caughey has had to juggle her time with the Sevens squad, who are chasing the Olympic dream.

"I train as hard for both," she said. "The Olympics is a dream for any athlete but if you've grown up with a Six Nations and World Cup background, that's the Olympics of 15s rugby.

"They are dreams. If I get to one or the other, I'll be happy."

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