Griggs clarifies chain of command as he focuses on Italy
Veteran Molloy omitted from squad as coach makes three changes to starting Ireland XV
Stacey Flood: starts at No 10 against Italy having excelled as the outhalf replacement against France – so Hannah Tyrrell makes way. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Ireland head coach Adam Griggs, speaking ahead of the final Six Nations match against Italy at Donnybrook on Saturday (12pm kick-off, live RTÉ Two), began yesterday’s press conference with an explanation.
“I fielded a question on Tuesday around the domestic game and who was in charge,” said Griggs.
“On reflection, I probably wasn’t as clear as I could have been so I feel it is important to acknowledge the work that Collie McEntee [IRFU director of rugby development] and Amanda Greensmith [women’s development manager] and the domestic game do in running our pathways and also our interprovincial series, so hopefully that can clear up some of the comments that were made.”
Griggs stated that he was “put on the spot” by two questions, asking him who runs the women’s game below the international squad.
“I know that we are running it as a body but you are looking for names and I am unable to give you names of who is running it,” he said on Tuesday.
Come Thursday, the New Zealander added: “The questions are understandable. What we have in place is a really good model and a good structure. There is more work to be done in terms of growing the game, get the numbers up which will improve the competitiveness at the top level of the game.
“It was important to make that clarification.”
However, Griggs refused to answer two more questions about why both of the IRFU’s formal press conferences the week of a major Test match took place without any players, even captain Ciara Griffin, who is now doing a Captain’s Run media interview on Friday morning.
Griggs is a professional IRFU coach, working with the Sevens programme, who came through the Canterbury Crusaders academy before helping Lansdowne win the AIL in 2015.
The situation he finds himself in is similar to his predecessor, Tom Tierney, in that he is repeatedly asked questions about the women’s game and its structures that only his employers can answer.
Greensmith, capped 20 times by Ireland between 2002 and 2007, doubles up as a “women’s development officer” for Munster, according to her Linkedin page.
McEntee was Leinster academy manager for eight years, up to 2012, before switching back to work in the IRFU head office. As a player he togged for Naas, Greystones, Lansdowne and Leinster.
Griggs confirmed that Claire Molloy, Ireland’s most experienced player, has been dropped from the match-day squad to face Italy following last week’s 56-15 loss to France. Molloy was the last link to the 2013 Grand Slam team that also reached the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
“I had a good conversation with Claire,” he said. “She is one of our most experienced players, very level-headed, and I set her a couple of targets away from the group that I feel she can keep improving on.
“That is the beauty of this game – you can have 70 odd caps and still be learning things. She is the first to admit that a couple parts of her performance weren’t up to scratch, and she knows that this is a competitive squad.
“Around players coming into the starting side, we have talked about building depth and improving competition. I wouldn’t be true to my word if we are not giving the other players a shot.”
Ulster’s Brittany Hogan comes into the backrow at openside, instead of Molloy, with Railway Union’s promising flanker Grace Moore set to be capped off the bench.
Twice capped Stacey Flood wears number 10, after she excelled as the outhalf replacement against France, so Hannah Tyrrell makes way.
The third change to Griggs’ starting XV sees Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe on the right wing instead of Lauren Delany while Harlequins prop Leah Lyons and Malone’s Neve Jones replace Emma Hooban and Katie O’Dwyer as frontrow cover.
The game was initially scheduled for Parma but the Italian federation agreed to the Dublin switch so Irish amateur players can avoid quarantining on their return home. Many of them have careers to return to on Monday morning.