Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


The 7s team is disrupting Ireland's ability to develop an out-half | Fiona Coghlan

Stacey Flood won't start for Ireland against Japan because she is focusing on the 7s team in Dubai. Fiona Coghlan explains Ireland's long-standing issues at out-half.

Fiona Coghlan joins Will O'Callaghan to discuss Ireland and Japan's upcoming rugby game.

Ireland released some tension against the USA last week.

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, the women's team put together a 20-10 victory in the RDS. Beibhinn Parsons, Leah Lyons and Lindsay Peat scored the tries, while Stacey Flood kicked two conversions and two penalties. None of those players will feature against Japan.

Lindsay Peat retired. But more significantly, Parsons and Flood will miss out because they're in Dubai with the Ireland 7s team.

Parsons is Ireland's best player. She's young and she's marketable. Her importance to the Ireland 15s team is huge for multiple reasons. She's obviously critical for the 7s team also. She's irreplaceable for both teams, which puts her and the IRFU in a difficult position. But Flood is just as important.

Since Hannah Tyrell's retirement, Flood has been Ireland's best option at out-half. Fiona Coghlan explains the situation that Ireland are facing and the problems they've had at the position.

"It was flagged well in advance," Coghlan said.

"But it will be interesting going forward what happens because obviously that 7s squad are trying to qualify for a World Cup next year in September as well. So the priority understandably now will go to the 7s. It will be interesting to see how much gametime they get with the 15s."

Gametime for out-halves is a topic fans of the men's team are familiar with. Joey Carbery should start against Argentina this weekend, giving Ireland an alternative option to the injured Jonathan Sexton. Ireland's womens team have the opposite problem. Too many players have played out half over recent years, some failed to live up to expectations and some were playing out of position.

Stacey Flood is the best out-half Ireland have had in recent months, but she is a 7s scrum half who needs time to develop into a 15s out-half.

She won't get that time without playing games.

"The Six Nations on in the end of March and April. It will clash with one of the World Series events as well, whether they're released or not or Greg [McWilliams] wants to go forward with a completely different squad will be very interesting.

"I think we've tried 11 or 12 out-halves in the last four years. So in some ways some players haven't been given opportunities to learn their trade at 10. Some of them didn't step up when they were given an opportunitiy. Stacey definitely seemed to be the one from the end of the Six Nations.

"She had all the potential to play there and actually do really well. She got used to managing a game at 15s, understanding how to bring her forwards into it and get her back line moving a little bit more.

"But now with her gone's time to start again."

Ireland play Japan at 3pm on Saturday. Ciara Griffin starts in her final game before retirement.

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Fiona Coghlan Ireland Women's Rugby Stacey Flood