Former Munster and Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan has paid the highest tribute to Lynne Cantwell as the Ireland centre prepares for her last international Test.
Philip Doyle's side take on France in Pau this afternoon (kick-off 5.45pm Irish time, live on RTÉ Two) with an outside chance of retaining their Six Nations title – they need a 19-point win, while scoring five tries and conceding none – but denying the French women a Grand Slam is a more realistic target.
Cantwell, holder of 82 caps with her first coming back in 2001, will retire after the game.
And double Heineken Cup-winner Quinlan was quick to compare the London-based back with another Ireland stalwart who is about to depart the international scene having her played her last home Test in Dublin last week.
“She’s had a phenomenal impact on women’s rugby,” Quinlan told RTÉ’s Against The Head.
“[She’s] such a great player, very similar to [Brian] O’Driscoll, the way she runs and swerves with the ball and she’s had a fantastic career. [It was] a great send-off for her playing in the Aviva and a great win by the women.”
Despite the size of the task in hand, Cantwell says the Ireland women are not lacking in belief.
“We are forever a team of believers. We also want to win in France for the first time. That’s the number one priority,” the Richmond player said in The Irish Times.
“As rugby people know only too well, that is a devilishly tough task to achieve.
“These games are always the most spectacular occasions and you can’t help getting sucked in by the French love of being entertained. The band will be playing, the noise deafening. Instead of being intimidated we embrace all the fanfare.”
Ireland team to play France: 15 N Briggs, 14 A Baxter, 13 L Cantwell, 12 J Murphy, 11 A Miller, 10 N Stapleton, 9 L Muldoon, 1 F Coghlan, 2 G Bourke, 3 A Egan, 4 S Spence, 5 M-L Reilly, 6 S Fleming, 7 C Molloy, 8 H O' Brien.
Replacements: 16 S-L Kennedy, 17 F Hayes, 18 K-A Craddock, 19 P Fitzpatrick, 20 A Davis, 21 H Casey, 22 G Davitt, 23 J Shiels.
Live coverage of the Women’s Six Nations meeting of France v Ireland from 17:30 on RTÉ Two and RTE.ie (Worldwide). Live radio coverage on Game On from 17:45 on RTÉ 2fm and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).