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Ireland out to continue fine progress

Ireland captain Claire Molloy says Ireland are in confident mood ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens this weekend in Moscow.

Nine of the players selected to compete in Moscow this weekend were part of the Six Nations  title winning squad and Ireland have recently won Plate titles in China, London and Brive, highlighting real progress in a short space of time.

This weekend, Ireland are pooled with the reigning World Champions in Australia, but after a positive few months, they are aiming high.

“We’re excited to be involved in this World Cup and Moscow is going to be a great setting for it,” Molloy said.

“ We were here last year for the qualifiers and that helps as it gives us some familiarity with the venue. The weather is not very Irish but we were playing in the sun in Marbella recently – we could get used to it!”

“No pool here is easy but our focus is to finish in the top two and get through to those Cup quarters and push for a place in the World Series next season. We have seen how things can turn quickly in Sevens – we’ve lost games in the last play ourselves this season so we’re not taking anything for granted.”

As one of the nine Irish players who were involved in a successful Six Nations campaign earlier this season Molloy is well placed to talk about the challenge of making the transition from the 15s game.

“It is a different kind of fitness. Luckily as an openside flanker you have to do a lot of running around in a game so I have adapted to that part of it, but in Sevens the speed at which you need to make decisions is very different and that takes getting used to. I have to think like a back all of the time which is a big transition for those of who play usually in the pack. The lack of space will be a huge shock when I go back to 15s!”

Looking ahead to Ireland’s pool which also includes South Africa and China, she adds.

“South Africa is our first game. If we don’t win that game we could struggle and we have to get off to a good start. There is a huge opportunity to get into the top eight and get onto the World Series. It is within our ability but every team in our pool will be thinking the same thing.  We beat Australia in China but they won’t have forgotten that. We saw how good they were in London. They are aggressive and intelligent players so that’s going to be a huge one.”

At the end of a long season Ireland were hit by a spate of untimely injuries just before World Cup selection was announced losing the likes of Niamh Briggs and Claire Keohane for Moscow.

Molloy is desperately disappointed for her teammates.

“It is never nice to see your friends injured and miss out on making the World Cup. Someone like Claire was involved in the Sevens programme from the start and to miss out like that at the last minute is really disappointing for them. We do have depth now though and the girls that have come in I know are going to bring something different to us. Someone like Nikki Caughey hasn’t played that much Sevens but she is a great player and has a wonderful pass. We are lucky to have players to come in. Everyone is here on merit.”

To many, Ireland are the dark horses of this tournament and their success in Plate finals in China and Brive recently have shown that they are well on track to take a place in the World Series next season as well as potentially cause a few upsets along the way.

“We rise to challenges and our performances show that we always come out fighting. In Brive we had 9 players left and we won the Plate final which shows that we can go out there and fight for each other when the chips are down.  We are a passionate team and we are always going to give it 100%”

"We are a passionate team and we are always going to give it 100%”