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Tom Tierney planning for the future with new players

Kim Flood and Liz Burke will make their Ireland debuts against Italy at Donnybrook tomorrow (1pm) and should Claire McLaughlin do likewise from the bench, coach Tom Tierney will have capped 14 new players since the November international.

Tierney maintained: "With the experience now that the girls have gained because of the defeats, they'll get better for it.

"Your greatest learnings come from your biggest disappointments. We got so much out of this Six Nations.

"That is one of our strategic goals this year; to widen the player base and to have achieved that with one game to go is a massive return. It's a huge thing for us if we want to be competitive in a World Cup next year.

With two home games to come against Italy and Scotland next week, Ireland will be confident of finishing with three wins in total and as captain Niamh Briggs rightly pointed out, it's not too long ago that would have been considered progress.

"For me personally, I hate to lose more than I enjoy winning," Briggs admitted.

"People will talk about this as being a disappointing season but that's a measure of where we are now. The pressure we're under is different."

Ireland Women: K Flood; L Burke, N Briggs (capt), S Naoupu, A Miller; N Caughey, M Healy; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; E Anthony, M L Reilly; C Cooney, C Griffin, S Spence. Reps: Z Grattage, R O'Reilly, F Reidy, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick, L Muldoon, N Stapleton, C McLaughlin.

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