She may still only be 19 but Beibhinn Parsons is determined to follow her dad’s advice and keep playing “like a kid” if it helps Ireland reach this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Ballinasloe wing has been crowned Guinness Rugby Writers Ireland Women’s Player of the Year in recognition of her try-scoring impact on her country’s Six Nations campaign in 2020 before stepping back to concentrate on completing her Leaving Certificate studies.
Covid-19 saw to it that neither the championship campaign nor her Leaving Cert was finished as scheduled while this year’s Women’s Six Nations has been postponed to a later date.
Yet having successfully dealt with the moving goalposts to this point, Parsons, now at UCD, is staying focused on her goal of getting Ireland to the World Cup in New Zealand later this year and she knows how best to help the effort.
"My dad gave me a good piece of advice when I left at Christmas, he said just play like a kid.
"I think I sort of lost that to a point when I was trying to be too serious or play a different game, be a different player, a playmaker which I'm not, I'm a finisher...I'm excited to play and I enjoy it,” Parsons said.
"So to make sure I express myself on the pitch is something that I'm definitely working on, I don't want to be boxed into anything.
"So, play like a kid.” She is improving her game in other ways besides and added: "I've been working on adding more of a kicking game, so I'm working on grubbers and chipping and that type of stuff.
"The girls in camp are excellent, Ellen Murphy is an expert on kicking so I'm always picking her brains, and the same with Catherine Day, just learning off the girls and trying to add more tools to my toolbox, really.”
All with the aim of qualifying for the World Cup, despite the uncertainty of when the qualifying tournament Ireland must negotiate first is taking place.
"Since I joined the squad (in 2018) our focus has been to get to the World Cup, it's the pinnacle of rugby, it's what you train for, it's what you do everything for, really.
"I'm scheduling my life nearly to peak during those World Cup qualifiers to ensure that we all get qualified, and that's what everyone's doing.
"We all have to re-jig our schedules, in my case I had to make sure I got my Leaving Cert done right the first time so I wouldn't have to repeat and miss anything the second time around.
"So yeah, it means everything. It's always what we were working towards.”