NIAMH Briggs is relishing the prospect of leading her team out against Italy when the Women’s Six Nations kicks off next week.
The recently appointed Ireland captain takes over the role from the retired Fiona Coghlan, who stepped down last summer following the 2014 World Cup.
Speaking to the Irish Post, the Waterford native said: “I’m keen to get stuck into it now and meet the squad next weekend and hopefully we’ll have a good camp behind us before Italy.”
The Irish will face the Italians at the Stadio Mario Lodigiani on February 6 for their opening fixture, and whilst Briggs admits that being handed the captaincy ahead of the tournament is an honour, she is aware of the big challenge awaiting her in Coghlan’s absence.
“It’s an absolute privilege, I really hope I can do this squad justice moving forward,” she said.
“I’ve taken Fiona’s advice on board, Fiona and Lynne Cantwell were very good mentors for me from the moment I started playing rugby. It’s very big boots to fill, Fiona was unbelievable at what she did, she’s an incredible leader.”
Much has been said about the new-look Ireland, with 12 uncapped players named in the squad. With a mix of experience and a healthy number of newcomers into the fold, is there greater pressure on Brigg’s shoulders as she takes on her new role?
“It’s good, it’s a breathe of fresh air into the squad, having some new faces and new management it’s all different,” she added. “We can all play rugby we’re all there for a reason, just trust in that and believe in each other. We’re incredibly close, we always have been, we’re known for that. The spirit in the squad is very good.
“We have a very strong squad, I know we have 12 uncapped players, but we also have a lot of experienced players so it’s important to recognise that.”
The UL Bohemians player recognises that with just over one week left until the Six Nations kicks off, incorporating the recent additions into the squad will be the focus.
She said: “The time that we have together is very limited so we’re trying to find a healthy balance between moving onto something new and being able to bring the newer girls with you.
“We’ve expressed our expectations with each other there’s just a good buzz. I think that women’s rugby in Ireland is definitely on the up and we’ve got some fantastic players, I don’t see why we can’t build a new generation of talent.”