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Girls need to step up for huge year ahead: Coghlan

Women's rugby

By Emma Patterson

Former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan has warned that the girls in green have "an awful lot of work to do" before playing host to the 2017 World Cup, following a string of disappointing results in this month's international Tests.

Tom Tierney's girls faced New Zealand at the UCD Bowl on Sunday, coming off the back of a narrow defeat to England and a hammering from Canada.

Ireland's women were handed a 38-8 defeat by a classy Kiwi side and ended their Autumn Series without a win.

Selica Winiata scored an early try for New Zealand and, despite being only 5-3 behind at the break, a disappointing second-half performance from Ireland was punished by the unforgiving Black Ferns.

New Zealand surged clear in the second half courtesy of a hat-trick of tries from Portia Woodman, with Winiata and Kelly Brazier also chalking their names on the scoreboard, before Niamh Kavanagh's late consolation try.

Coghlan, who captained the team that beat New Zealand at the 2014 World Cup, reflected: "I'm not overly surprised.

"New Zealand were coming here to prove a point that they are the top team in the world, they're No.1 and they're going to continue to build towards the World Cup.

"We're in a transitional period, and with nine months to go we've an awful lot of work to do. New Zealand really are a phenomenal team. When we beat them in the World Cup I don't know whether they had a bad day or we had a good day, but they're going to be tough to beat.

"World Cups are tough, we'll be playing every four days and New Zealand replicated that pace this week to get their players used to that, like a mini World Cup.

"Tom definitely has a bigger squad to choose from going forward, now it's about getting the quality, because the depth and numbers are there."

Tierney has blooded five new players over the past three weeks, including UL Bohemians' Anna Caplice and UCD student Nichola Fryday, in preparation for a serious tilt at the Six Nations in February.

Scrum-half Larissa Muldoon praised the performances of the newly-capped players and insisted that, despite losing three in a row, what the squad have learned has been immeasurable.

She said: "It's about the bigger picture. We had massive performances from the new caps, a welcome to international rugby and the standard we'll be playing at, and it's great to get at it now instead of coming into a World Cup with that upon us.

"I couldn't be more proud of the girls, everyone put their bodies on the line and the amount we'll learn we'll bring on to the World Cup and the Six Nations."

Ireland kick off their Six Nations against Scotland on February 3 at Broadwood Stadium.

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