Irish disrupter-in-chief Claire Molloy ready for England

Natural born open-side flanker relishing World Cup semi-final tilt against Red Rose

Claire Molloy: “This game, England in a world cup semi-final, this is our dream. We now know we can beat New Zealand, so why not England as well?” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Claire Molloy: “This game, England in a world cup semi-final, this is our dream. We now know we can beat New Zealand, so why not England as well?” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 01:00

It would be Claire Molloy who caught hypothermia. You might have seen the picture. A bitterly cold, wet and windy day in a town called Parabiagio, a ripped off taxi fare outside Milan, was where it all went down.

It was St Patrick’s Day last year as Ireland scrambled to the Grand Slam thanks to the boot of Niamh Briggs but it was the work of their number seven that played such a pivotal role in the success.

As has been the case for some time now. Molloy was named Irish player of the year in 2012 and only pipped at the post by Briggs in 2013.

Anyway, she was whisked off to hospital that evening, essentially to be re-heated (in a typical sign of the lack of professionalism of those on the periphery of women’s rugby, someone forgot to turn on the hot water in Parabiagio so the showers became a torture chamber).

Thankfully she survived. Like so many of the ladies in this ground-breaking world cup squad, her origins are Gaelic football - she played corner back in Galway’s 2005 All-Ireland final defeat to Cork - but Molloy is a natural born openside.

Ignore the run of play in tomorrow’s World Cup semi-final against England and track the 26-year-old doctor. You will still be following the run of play.

One guess who she models herself on?

“Richie McCaw. I remember getting feedback from Lenny (Browne, Ireland’s video analyst) and he showed me McCaw. He is always on the second defensive line, always ready to pounce.”

Of the Irish forwards only Fiona Coghlan and Ailis Egan have banked more game time over the three Pool matches in Marcoussis. And that’s because she was caught doing her job – not medicine, thievery.

“I had a 10 minute break against the USA and the girls have reminded me about it. Not under your posts!”

The sin-binning in the 23-17 win over America could have proved costly. But she was only doing what makes her such an effective player.

“It was over eagerness to get the ball. I accept I was wrong.”

There is an argument to say someone else was wrong?

“Ah, it was a 60-40 call. I won’t do it under my posts next time!”

Her 68kg frame seemed too light to cope with the Black Ferns. They were exected to neutralise her effectiveness at the breakdown. But during the Six Nations the English backrow couldn’t remove her from the tackle area at Twickenham nor could the gargantuan French down in Pau. She was also a valuable linout option at the tail against New Zealand. And she carried an enormous amount of ball (as she did when coming on against Kazakhstan). And she spoiled and slowed, spoiled and slowed.

“McCaw’s timing is immaculate. Slowing the ball is as important as a turnover. In many cases more important as it allows us to keep our defensive shape.”

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