Hannah Tyrrell and Ireland ready to push on after nervy start
Backline should get ample opportunity to show their talent against Japan
Hannah Tyrrell celebrates Ireland’s opening victory over Australia. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Tyrrell has already told her story. She has spoken about self harm during her early teens and struggles with bulimia.
In another sporting life time she was a Dublin footballer from the Round Towers club in Clondalkin – Jim Gavin’s patch – but the transition to rugby seemed primarily trained on Sevens until injury to Niamh Briggs left a gaping hole in Ireland’s back field.
Tyrrell’s ability to shine at fullback, and not just mind the house, was confirmed during the Six Nations with a stunning try against Italy.
“Course I do,” she said, when asked about wanting to get a chance to improve upon Wednesday’s performance against Japan on Sunday.
“I want to play every minute of every game if I can but this is a 28-woman squad and we are going to need each and every one of those for the entire tournament so whatever Tom calls in terms of selection will be the right decision and we will go from there.”
The relentless physicality of the bigger Australians “shook” Ireland the other night.
“We ground out a win really. A big turning point was Sophie Spence and Ciara Griffin – ‘Junior’ – coming on. They really put some big hits, some big carries in. Made their presence felt. Ali Miller put herself about as well. Jenny Murphy had some big hits. But everyone put their body on the line.”
Tyrrell’s tackle on marauding Wallaroos hooker Cheyenne Campbell also proved crucial in the end.
We’ll know Ireland have clicked at this tournament if Tyrrell and Sene Naoupu are seen attacking in full flow. The nervy opening saw the backline dealing with far too much back-foot possession which perhaps contributed to some poor execution when the space did finally appear.
“I had a fair bit of ball – need to work on my passing as we could have scored a couple more tries. It wasn’t the best night for wingers but I don’t mind as we got the result.”
Sunday against Japan, as France proved, is a game when every Irish player could do with bringing a winger’s mentality.
“We need more physicality at the ruck, get a little bit lower. Better communication about where we are going and we’ll be ready to rock against Japan. Nerves are gone now, we are well into the tournament now.”
Ireland played Japan last month as part of their preparations.
“They’re good. They are very well-drilled, very low tacklers and they like to swarm the ruck. We have a couple of players and tactics that we think will work against them so we can’t wait.”
They are not fond of a tackle. On the flip side, here comes Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave. The giant Japanese backrow is a primary target for leg chopping.
“Their number eight is a big threat for them, a big ball carrier. They’ve some really fast wingers out the back and they love a kick over the top or a crossfield kick. They’re all good players with technical ability and they get about the park very well. Just very well organised.”
“A lot of their backs would be Sevens players so they would be very fit and not carrying a lot of extra weight. They wouldn’t be the biggest of units in the back line but they tend to use speed and footwork to get around rather than crash it up like Australia.”