Former international Fiona Steed says that a strong start is vital for Ireland Women as they welcome France to Ashbourne.

Both sides come into the Six Nations clash with one win each and, with Wales beating England in the opening round last week, the result of tonight’s tie (7.30pm, live on 2fm) could have a huge bearing on the outcome of the championship, Steed told RTÉ Sport.

“The French women are similar to the French men in that if you get on top of them they could go home early. They could capitulate up in Ashbourne,” said Steed.

“I think if we can get on top of the French, and if it is cold and windy after that, who knows?

“This is pivotal for the championship and I think that Ireland can sneak the win and that will set them up nicely for the rest of the tournament.

“Gone are the days when we wanted the rain and the wind. The Irish backs are very talented.”