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Guest relishing English clash

We caught up with Ireland’s Laura Guest ahead of this weekend’s game against England.

Despite breaking three ribs in December, Ireland’s Laura Guest still managed to win over head coach Philip Doyle for a spot in his Six Nations squad, writes Mary White.

The injury she suffered in the warm-up for Munster’s Interprovincial final win against Leinster should have put a serious dent in her Six Nations’ hopes. But, it didn’t.

A determination to work hard and maintain her fitness saw her called into Doyle’s pre Six Nations training camps in County Meath, and with it his starting 15 for Ireland’s opener against Wales last weekend.

Good preparation says Guest yielded the vital 12-10 victory — a 75th minute try by hooker Gillian Bourke denying Rhys Edwards’ side.

“We were expecting it to be as tough as it was to be honest. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but we got it in the end.”

Ireland’s renewed emphasis on strength and conditioning under IRFU’s Ross O’Callaghan for a start helped fend off the ferocity of Wales’ second-half attacking dominance, while the addition of an official assistant forwards coach — Peter Bracken, who himself won a Heineken Cup medal with London Wasps — was also key.

For Guest, it’s always been about raising the bar, and with reigning champions England tomorrow in Ashbourne (Meath) at 2pm — a side they’ve never beaten in 17 encounters — there’ll be no higher bar.

“We’ve a few things to improve on from Sunday, but we’ll take a look at some video analysis and see what we need to do.

“We gave away too many penalties against Wales and had two yellow cards, so that won’t help our cause against England,” said the former UL graduate, who  travelled to Dublin for today’s pre-game walk through.

“We don’t fear the prospect of playing the best. England are second in the world in the sport, and we want to play the best, and we’re relishing the opportunity to do that. We respect them for what they have, and what they can do, but equally we think we can do it. This year we have a more experienced bench and the coaches had the toughest job they’ve ever had in picking their 23, but there’s more depth there now.”

Last year’s game is still fresh in Guest’s mind when Ireland lost 6-23 to the champions on the last day of the 2012 series at Esher RFC in London.

For 60 minutes they stuck with Gary Street’s side, but a late lapse in concentration saw the floodgates open — just as they did against Scotland last weekend after 19 minutes.

England ran in 12 tries to win 76-0 in their opener last weekend, and continued their incredible record of just one loss (in 2005 against Wales, 15-16) in their 39 Six Nations showings.

"In terms of maintaining concentration ourselves we’re just going to have to take it minute by minute, play by play. That sounds simple to do, but you’re always focusing on other things, but, that’s what it’s going to take.  Mentally and physically I’m sure we’ll be ready to go play the way our coaches want us to play,”  the 27-year-old says.

With England having already qualified for the World Cup in France next year, they’ve turned their attentions to the Sevens World Cup in Russia this summer, releasing 17 of their panel to bolster their Sevens chances.

Some media outlets have suggest it has weakened Street’s squad, but take note now, it hasn’t (there’s just one uncapped player in the side).

“None of us believe that for a second. They’ve such a huge pool to choose from that they have 40-50 players capable of pulling on the jersey and doing just as good a job as the players before them did. It’s that depth that has seen them dominate for six to seven years.  Having those 17 players move to sevens, simply opens the door for 17 other great players, that’s all. Whoever they decide to start with, it’ll still be the best team they have available to them.”

The Irish game will be streamed live on the IRFU website


"This year we have a more experienced bench and the coaches had the toughest job they’ve ever had in picking their 23, but there’s more depth there now."

Laura Guest, Ireland.