By Padraic Ryan
Lynne Cantwell has said Ireland’s next target is to win the World Cup, after a 40-5 win over Kazakhstan meant they secured an historic semi-final spot.
Ireland had come into the tournament eyeing a semi-final berth as an objective, and achieved that through wins over the USA, New Zealand and Saturday’s win over Kazakhstan. The side will now face England in the last-four on Wednesday.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport after the Kazakhstan game, Cantwell said Ireland were now looking at the biggest prize of the lot.
“The next target, obviously, is to win the World Cup,” Cantwell said. “This is step three complete of a five-step process.”
Cantwell stressed that Ireland would continue to take each game one at a time, and said she did not have a preference for Ireland’s semi-final opponent.
“We’ll be able to decode anybody as I’ve said from the very start,” she said with a smile.
Ireland put Kazakhstan to the sword with a second-half flurry of tries, but had looked a little disjointed during the first half.
Asked whether Ireland had changed much at half-time, Cantwell, who was captain for the game, said that it was more a question of honing technical aspects rather than wholesale changes.
“It’s wasn’t necessarily changing a couple of things,” she said. “I think what people mightn’t appreciate is how finely tuned certain combinations are.
“This was always going to be a 26-man World Cup, and that’s something that it needed to be, and I thought the girls did a really, really good job.
“There was always going to be a half, or 20 minutes that just took a while for certain combinations to work, and I thought the girls did a job coming into half-time.
“The points at half-time were very technical points. They were about speeding up our rucks, being more effective in our rucks, and obviously protecting the nine, because we know that once we got it out wide there was loads of space out there, there were loads of options and weapons out there.”
The impact of Ireland’s second-half substitutes was felt on the game, as they pushed on for a comprehensive victory.
Cantwell was keen to stress that a 26-woman effort would be needed throughout the tournament, but did say: “The girls did amazing jobs when they came on.
"It just gave us a bit of stability where it needed to be, which got us a better platform. It just allowed our backs to run on to the ball a little more and score tries.”
Live on 2fm: Ireland v England, Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final, Wednesday 13 August at 5pm.