Ireland captain Niamh Briggs hopes her injuries woes are behind her as the countdown starts to the Rugby World Cup in August.
Briggs tore a tendon in last year’s November Series and missed this season’s Six Nations Championship because of a hamstring problem.
However, the Waterford native returned to running in recent weeks as part of the national side’s 48-strong training squad
She said: “I’m getting there now. It’s been a frustrating type of season. Mentally it was difficult at times. But the medical staff in the IRFU have been brilliant, so I’m nearly there.
“I’m back running, I’m the one being flogged on the sideline while the girls are training. A few weeks of hard, lung-bursting runs and conditioning, and I’m good to go I think.”
The final squad for the competition (which sees host country Ireland drawn in a pool with Australia, France and Japan) will be cut down to 28 players in July, and Briggs admits head coach Tom Tierney and his management will have some difficult decisions to make.
“Every squad needs competition. It’s making things so competitive for us, because there’s only 28 spots up for grabs for that tournament.
“I think for us a squad, we’ve got to just concentrate on ourselves, and making sure that we as individuals, and then together, we put ourselves in the best possible position to be selected.”
Ireland head to the tournament on the back of a decent Six Nations, where four consecutive victories were followed by a reversal in a Grand Slam decider against England. The Red Roses also got the better of their cross-channel rivals in the 2014 World Cup semi-final, and Briggs admits that defeat still hurts.
“Having been in 2010 in London and 2014 in France, the progression has been huge, and that’s what you’re looking for. We had some brilliant memories from France, and New Zealand [pool stage win] being the highlight of it.
“Ultimately we didn’t reach our goal in trying to win the cup. That disappointment is still there and still driving us. That defeat to England still hurts a lot, hopefully, we can go a couple of steps further this time.”
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