‘Less argumentative’ Niamh Briggs is happy to remain patient in the role of Ireland manager

Niamh Briggs was such a demanding player, she was always demanding, both of herself and of those around her.

Since the beginning of her coaching journey, she has expected no less of her players, but Briggs also recognizes that she must be patient.

From the outside in, that might be easier said than done, especially for someone whose fighting spirit is as strong as ever.

Still, the move to Ireland’s backroom team has been a fairly smooth transition for the former captain who played such an important role in the country’s most prosperous days.

“Would you believe that as a coach I’m actually not as argumentative as I am as a player,” says Briggs.

“I’m definitely a lot more patient, but I’m also very aware.

“I generally get a lot of excitement about where we can go and what we can do as a group. When you know you’re working with very talented players and trying to just raise them and develop them properly, it’s easy to be patient because you know they’re not far off.

“So, from that perspective, it wasn’t that bad at all because I can see the direction we’re going and that really excites me.”

Briggs has worked with Ireland’s back while overseeing the attacking game plan alongside head coach Greg McWilliams.

The Waterford native has also placed great emphasis on players’ skills and the early signs of last weekend’s defeat by Wales certainly suggested they believe the Briggs philosophy.

“We put a lot of emphasis on being better passers, but to be better passers we have to be better catchers,” she explains. “I think when you look at an ability like passing, you kind of forget that if we catch the ball right, it affects the pass.

“That’s been a big focus for me over the past few weeks, getting that catch pass right and understanding that at a test level, a split second can make a huge difference.

“Attack and defense was my general area. It’s been very rewarding so far because I’m learning a lot from people like Greg and Dave (Gannon, Forward Coach) and Rob (Sweeney, Scrum Coach). It was brilliant.”

Briggs and McWilliams worked together in the days when Ireland won the Grand Slam (2013) and beat New Zealand en route to the semi-finals of the World Cup (2014) and seem well aligned in the way their team is expected to play be .

Key to this form of attack is the use of two playmakers, and Briggs was encouraged by how matched Nicole Cronin and Stacey Flood were at 10 and 12 in their first game together.

“Obviously I’m picky and wish things were a little better given how perceptive we were,” says Briggs.

“But in terms of our phasing game attack, I was so, so pleased. Nicole is still slipping into that out-half role, especially internationally.

“I thought it was a really solid day’s work for her first game to play there. The big difference is in the space and intensity that she probably wouldn’t have experienced before with AIL and Interpros.

“She’s only going to get better and I thought she kicked exceptionally well and managed that group of forwards.

“It also frees someone like Stacey who has an incredible range of skills. And having players like that on both sides of the ruck can give us a wealth of opportunities.

“We’re getting better and better and I think that’s the most exciting thing.”

France will endure a very difficult test in front of what is expected to be a large crowd at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in Toulouse on Saturday.

But as much as Briggs hasn’t downplayed the scale of the challenge, the former full-back/full-back insists that once the Six Nations begins, the conversation about the benefits of professionalism will become less important.

“It’s really easy to throw out the professional stick and talk about it all the time, but it doesn’t really make much of a difference in those few weeks,” adds Briggs.

“In terms of the minutes of walking and their strain, everyone agrees a little bit. We just have to make sure we train smart.

“I think they’re obviously further down the road in their development than we are, that’s for sure. Your club system is very strong.

“France is very good. For me they are definitely up there with England.

“I’ve never been able to beat them over there and I think that’s going to be a big task for us, but I think we just have to focus on ourselves. Understanding where we are as a group, where we are going, and then continue to grow and develop from our side rather than looking at them.”

https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/less-cantankerous-niamh-briggs-happy-to-stay-patient-in-ireland-coaching-role-41501509.html ‘Less argumentative’ Niamh Briggs is happy to remain patient in the role of Ireland manager

Fry Electronics Team

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