Sene Naoupu has rejected any suggestion that this year's Women's Six Nations will be a shootout between France and England as she talked up Ireland's hunger to test themselves against the very best.
Ireland began their tournament last weekend with a 45-0 thumping of Wales, who were beaten 53-0 in France seven days previously.
England, the reigning champions, saw off Scotland 52-10 before easing past Italy 67-3. They are the only fully professional outfit in the tournament ,with the French semi-professional, but Naoupu focused on the advantages a vibrant Irish camp possess as they look to cause an upset against Les Bleus in Donnybrook this Saturday, after the IRFU were given assurances by the government that the game will go ahead as they await confirmation of an alternative to mandatory hotel quarantine.
"We're capable of competing with the best," she said.
"We've believed it. We've been working extremely hard in our environment. We have world class coaching, world class facilities. We are well resourced.
"We have had time together that's given us that sense of belief in what we can do but we just need to test it against the best in the world. We're looking forward to that exact opportunity this weekend.
"There's more in us. It was a good start [against Wales] but that's all it was. It was a good first game and we need to back it up this weekend against a quality outfit in France.
"We've got some systems that we trust in and that we've been working hard to execute. When you do that right you start to shut down key threats in the opposition."
The shifting sands of the sporting landscape have thrown up many challenges.
Ireland have played just two competitive games in 14 months. This delayed Six Nations also has a new two-pool format as rugby has adjusted to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the French game only getting the green light on Wednesday after some confusion about whether or not it would go ahead.
All of these difficulties seem to have brought the best out of this particular group however, with head coach Adam Griggs invigorating the squad with some fresh faces and new ideas.
"Certainly there's areas we can be better in for France - we absolutely have to be better in," added Naoupu, who shone at centre alongside debutante Eve Higgins in Cardiff.
"It was a positive start but we're looking to make improvements week on week, game by game.
"Our squad have been working extremely hard for these games. We need to back up the performance of last weekend against the quality of France."
Referencing the earlier worries about the France being cancelled she said: "We've had to be flexible and adaptable this whole time. As a group we're pretty resilient. We focus on what we've got to do and control the controllables.
"Ciara Griffin our captain said it best when she said this is the most resilient group she'd ever been part of because of the challenges we've had to face. We're just focusing on what we can control this week and then the challenge ahead for the weekend.
"We're 100% focused on what we can control. Our ultimate goal is to play games in this championship and perform in those games and to achieve an output that we believe we're capable of."
Sene Naoupu was speaking at the launch of Guinness's 'Never Settle’ campaign which aims to make rugby a more inclusive and accessible game for everyone regardless of gender, race or sexuality.
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