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We have plenty to improve on after early struggles but we won't panic, says Griffin

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On the charge: Ciara Griffin knows her side must do better

On the charge: Ciara Griffin knows her side must do better

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

On the charge: Ciara Griffin knows her side must do better

Considering the tricky situations Ireland have found themselves in during their opening two World Cup games, the sense of calm that is exuding from the squad is quite remarkable.

Whether or not that is a front being put on for the media remains to be seen, because if you were to judge the performances against Australia and Japan at face value, you would be naive to think that nerves hadn't contributed greatly to their struggles.

That said, Ireland have now twice faced down the barrel of an early exit from their home World Cup and fought back to ensure that it all comes down to Thursday's eagerly-awaited pool decider against France.

From the outside at least, the public's expectations may have dampened, but inside the four walls of the squad's UCD base, nothing has changed.

Before a ball was kicked, reaching the semi-finals was the minimum requirement for a team who believed that they were perfectly prepared.

Ciara Griffin had a bird's eye view of the failings against Australia, and her introduction from the bench had a major say in Ireland keeping their tournament alive.

The Co. Kerry native didn't have it all her own way against Japan on Sunday, but she made some vital second-half contributions.

"We're realistic," the flanker maintained. "We had a lot of handling errors, unforced errors too, which is something we didn't want. We've spoken about it, we want to rectify it, but that's sport, things happen.

"Japan had really good line-speed, but we should have kept our depth a bit more. We've a lot to work on but we won't panic."

One thing this squad has is incredible unity and a never-say-die attitude that has saved their blushes on both occasions.

There is a stark realisation across the board, however, that France will not be as forgiving.

After a poor Six Nations, the French have radically stepped up the intensity of their training and even took on the national side's U19 men's team in a bid to improve their physicality.

"We're a massive collective unit, we're very close, we're like another family," Griffin said of Ireland's bond. "We're very good at talking to one another and helping each other out. We'll help one another with analysis, anything we can improve on. It's up to us to recover and rest now and analyse it."

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Ireland edged France during their Six Nations clash in Dublin earlier this year, but there is a growing fear that the French are now a totally different beast.

The hosts may have struggled in their opening two games but they have nothing to fear against a team they know only too well.

"A win's a win, it's a massive boost for us, but that's the Six Nations, it's a totally different tournament," Griffin insisted.

"It's up to us to regroup, work on our accuracy, fix our mistakes and go hard at the French."

France may have improved since the spring but Ireland's fitness has also moved up a level.

"Fitness was one thing we marked after the Six Nations, we wanted to be fitter and stronger and that's showing," Griffin said.

"It mightn't be the prettiest, you can win by 10 points or 120 points, a win's a win. We'll take a lot of solace from that.

"We've a lot of positives in terms of the turnaround at half-time, we showed we're a team, not individuals, that will be major thing against the French.

"I watched the World Cup at home in 2014, now to be here living the dream and playing with some of the girls I looked up to is massive.

"We want to perform, to make our country proud, to make our families proud, so I'm relishing the experience."


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