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Irish relish pressure of Women's Rugby World Cup: Tom Tierney


By Emma Patterson

There are just two days to go until the Women's Rugby World Cup kicks off in Dublin and, as the host nation, Ireland bear the weight of expectation.

They face Australia in their opening match at the UCD Bowl on Wednesday evening, and Irish confidence is high.

Head coach Tom Tierney believes his girls are relishing the challenge ahead.

"We're embracing the extra pressure of being hosts, it's a great opportunity and the girls realise it's a once in a career chance to win a World Cup at home," he said.

At France 2014, Ireland lost out in the semi-finals to an English side that were reaping the rewards of professional contracts, but Tierney doesn't believe that status is an issue.

"There are two ways of looking at professionalism; one is getting paid, and the other is being as professional as you can in your preparation," said Tierney.

"We're professional in how we approach the game, and very confident in our own ability."

Ireland suffered a blow with the news that skipper Niamh Briggs would miss the tournament due to an Achilles injury, but Galway native Claire Molloy has stepped up to take the captaincy.

"It's desperately disappointing for Niamh but that's sport," Tierney said. "Claire was a standout option, she's an instinctive leader and a driving force, so it was a natural progression for her."

Molloy, the current squad's most capped player, has seen the women's game develop drastically in her playing career.

She said: "The level of attention and coverage for this tournament has just been fantastic.

"My first season was 2010 and back then people didn't know the Women's Six Nations even existed, but now people will cross the street to say good luck to us, it's an amazing transformation."

For Ireland, the transformation has occurred both on and off the pitch.

"Our confidence has transformed. We've beaten the best teams in the world including England, New Zealand and France," said Molloy. "We've put in performances, come out with big victories, won against the odds and that gives us confidence that we can be successful.

"This year's Six Nations showed us that we can win ugly. We ground out performances and showed resilience. It might not have been going right on the day but we got the tries and bonus points."

Despite their self-belief, Molly says they won't be underestimating a dangerous and physical Australian side.

"Australia want to spoil the party and beat the hosts, just like we wanted to do in 2010 playing England in their home World Cup," she said.

"They're a strong, aggressive pack that can put in big hits, it's going to be a big battle upfront.

"They've got sevens stars coming in who won Olympic gold in Rio, so we're not going to underestimate them. We will use the crowd to our advantage and get them behind us as a 16th player.

"We have to deal with pressure as hosts, but this is just 80 minutes of rugby and we're the best rugby players in the country."

Belfast Telegraph


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