Women's Rugby World Cup: Hosts Ireland target semi-final place

The captains of the teams in the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup
This will be the eighth Women's Rugby World Cup tournament
Women's Rugby World Cup
Venues: Dublin and Belfast Dates: 9-26 August
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio Ulster medium wave and text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

New Ireland captain Claire Molloy says the players will be able to handle the pressure of hosting the Women's Rugby World Cup.

The tournament begins in Dublin on Wednesday and the hosts hope to at least emulate their success of 2014 when they reached the semi-finals.

Molloy believes Sevens specialists Australia will be dangerous first opponents at the UCD complex.

"They will target us and aim to be party spoilers," said Molloy.

"We have been in their position before. In 2010 we were playing the hosts [England] and that is what we set out to do, to pull out one big performance.

"I cannot think about playing France or the semi-finals or anything like that because Australia are going to be our biggest barrier straight away."

Ireland's Pool C fixtures
All matches at UCD Bowl, Dublin
Wednesday 9 AugustAustralia19:00 BST
Sunday 13 AugustJapan17:15
Thursday 17 AugustFrance19:45

Molloy was only recently appointed as Ireland captain when Niamh Briggs had to withdraw because of injury.

The 29-year-old, who is heading into her third World Cup, said: "It was a big blow, with Niamh telling us in camp that she hadn't managed to recover from injury and had picked up another one.

"You never want to see an athlete, who has worked as hard as her, have to tell her team-mates that she is not going to be able to make it.

"We had to then come together as a group and say: 'How are we going to deal with this situation?'

"We knew that someone was going to have to step in and I got the phone call. I just thought: 'This is a huge honour but I am one of 28 players and I have to do my job on the pitch.'"

Molloy played in Ireland's magnificent victory over New Zealand at the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup
Molloy played in Ireland's magnificent victory over New Zealand at the 2014 Women's RWC

Leading by example is how Molloy intends to fulfil her captaincy obligations.

"That is how I play the game and that is how I am going to lead. I will give my best out there for the girls.

"We had a strong leadership group throughout the Six Nations and there are so many leaders on and off the pitch and I am really just there to facilitate these awesome people.

"It is going to be an amazing experience and the most watched women's rugby sports event ever and we are so excited to just get out and play."

Commentary on Ireland's Pool matches will be on Radio Ulster medium wave and the BBC Sport website

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