Arid Environment

Enya Breen ‘excited’ by the challenge of England

Does the prospect of facing England on Sunday (noon) fill Enya Breen with excitement or dread?

It’s a fair question given that the all-conquering Red Roses have so far racked up 31 tries and conceded just two in the first three rounds of the 2022 TikTok Six Nations.

Due to Covid Ireland haven’t played the mostly professional outfit since a 27-0 defeat in Doncaster in 2020.

Breen only turns 23 on Saturday and this is her first time to face them.

Their 10-try massacre of Wales last time out attracted a record English crowd of 14,689 to Kingsholm and ticket sales for Sunday’s game in Welford Road are predicted to surpass that.

Throw in the fact that Ireland have just suffered a mass exodus of their best backs to international Sevens’ duty, necessitating the call-up of seven players mid-stream (including her West Cork compatriot Laura Sheehan and veteran center Sene Naupu) and the trip to Leicester looks particularly daunting.

Yet the Skibbereen native is not having any defeatist talk.

“You have to be excited about it. They’re the best team in the world but there’s no point in being afraid because that’s when we’ll start going into our shells. We have to be excited. There’s no point in playing with fear.”

England may have lost full-back Abby Dow to a broken leg but Ireland’s defense still expect to be stretched from all angles and heights.

“We trained against Barnhall U20s (men) last Saturday who put massive pressure on the back field and two weeks ago, when we played France, they kicked to us something like 30 times so we’re using those experiences,” Breen says.

With so many of her Sevens teammates now gone (Breen is also on a centralized Sevens contract) she acknowledges there is “ a massive opportunity for some of us on the fringes and we’ve just got to embrace the challenge.”

She has come off the bench in all of Ireland’s three games to date, replacing Lucy Mulhall, Stacey Flood and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe respectively (all now gone to the Sevens) and feels Ireland’s backline on Sunday won’t be quite as green as people fear.

“It’s not really a new backline as we’ve all been involved in camp the last two months. There’s been people in and out and also training on Tuesday nights. We’ve all been waiting on the fringes for an opportunity if we get it.”

A winner of the AIL ‘Rising Star’ award in 2019, Breen was only 19 when she made her Six Nations debut that season, starting against France and Wales.

She prefers to play center but her out-half experience with UL Bohs means she can also play the sort of dual playmaker role that Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams favours.

She missed most of the interrupted 2020 season due to injury, just getting back for the delayed last game against Italy that winter.

Yet the Cork physiotherapist doesn’t blame injuries or COVID for some speed bumps in her international career.

“Last year I was in and out of the squad, that was just personal form, I can’t blame that on injury but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m enjoying my rugby again and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity over the next two weeks.

“I picked up a few injuries over the years but that’s part and parcel of playing. I’d have loved to have been able to kick on since 2019 and I think I have. The new environment really suits me, it’s very ambitious and very positive and I feel like I’m at a good place now and feeling quite robust.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button