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Sene Naoupu teamed up with Guinness to rally support for Ireland’s women’s team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations Championship

Sene Naoupu teamed up with Guinness to rally support for Ireland’s women’s team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations Championship

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Sene Naoupu teamed up with Guinness to rally support for Ireland’s women’s team ahead of the upcoming Six Nations Championship

Ireland simply have to qualify for the 2021 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.

Anything else would allow the disastrous 2017 World Cup campaign to further fester and impact on the deep desire to move onward and upward.

The failure to make the Top-7 at our own event had consequences that are only now coming into view ahead of the qualification process in September.

As No 10 ten in the world, Irish will have to overcome Italy, Scotland and Spain to qualify, far from a guarantee given Italy (7th) and Spain (9th) are ranked ahead of them with Scotland just behind in 11th.

"You have to win through a two-stage process," said Ireland's Sene Naoupu at a Guinness event in support of the upcoming Six Nations.

"The winner of the first one (Pool) gets the home advantage for the final game."

The Six Nations and a yet-to-be-confirmed summer series will be used by coach Adam Griggs as tools to evaluate which women will be part of the qualifiers in September.

"There are a few players in the squad who were involved for the last number of years and for us, the core motivation and drive for us is World Cup qualification," said Naoupu.

"Certainly, the Six Nations is important from a development and performance point of view and we want the results that we have worked so hard for."

Of course, the players will be reminded of the dangers of looking too far ahead. They certainly seemed to heed this with a confidence-building win in Wales at the weekend.

"It was hugely beneficial and we got out of it what we needed to get out of it," said Naoupu.

"It's always nice to win and it's important for us to build confidence in the team."

There was an element of redemption about it as Wales had come to Dublin in November and left with a last-minute win (15-13) from the Belfield Bowl.

Two months later, Ireland were able to put manners on their Celtic cousins, winning 22-12 with four tries, to set them up for their Six Nations opener against Scotland at Energia Park on Sunday week.

The introduction of assistants Kieran Hallett (defence) and Steve McGuinness (forwards) has injected new voices to add to those of coach Griggs.

" I believe we're on the verge of something special," she said. "We've changed quite a few things, including the management and leadership group meeting quite regularly and then the structure of those roles and responsibilities.

"Ciara Griffin is an excellent leader, and our captain, and then around that we have a few forwards and backs in that core leadership group."