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Monday 11 December 2017

Irish coach Tierney drives team on after Briggs loss

The international captains pose with the World Cup trophy ahead tomorrow’s kick-off in Dublin. Pic: Getty Images
The international captains pose with the World Cup trophy ahead tomorrow’s kick-off in Dublin. Pic: Getty Images

Tomorrow is everything to everyone involved in the Ireland Women's rugby World Cup.

"The waiting is the worst part," shared Ireland coach Tom Tierney.

The hosts three Pool opponents have listed their goals. France captain Gaelle Mignot is looking "to reach the final".

Japan leader Seina Saito is "aiming for the Top-8" and Australia's captain Shannon Parry is "going for the Top-4".

None of these nations are going anywhere soon unless they can pocket an opening day win out in Belfield tomorrow.

The loss of captain Niamh Briggs has been compared to that of Roy Keane to Ireland at the 2002 World Cup in that it could make for a galvanising force.

"Sport has a funny way of doing that, especially team sports," said the coach.

"It's like a switch that goes on and, suddenly, you're in a different mindset.

"The mindset is the key; we're very conscious we've done all the hard work, from a strength and conditioning perspective.

"We're very clear how we want to play. Also, we're rock solid in team cohesion.

"If we have all three of those, then we're going to be a difficult team to play against, and all the expectations outside, we'll be able to handle that in the best possible way."

The former Munster and Ireland scrum-half Tierney has known his fair share of pressure in the professional game.

The expectation will be there to perform and, more than that, to take away the right result against Australia in the showpiece occasion tomorrow evening.

While it is not exactly a must-win scenario, the room for error shrinks considerably after day one.

"There's two ways of looking at it," said Tierney.

"One, you can see it as a negative and it can get to you and you'll lose your focus because that's all you're focusing on.

"Two, what we've tried to do is right. Every single player is responsible for their job.

"They do their job. The management do their job and we bring that together as a team.

"Then, we have a situation where we can bring that on to the pitch and, suddenly, all the outside factors are not going to affect performance levels, but help it.

"The girls are very clear on that, and they're driving it themselves."

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