Although she is only four caps into her XVs international rugby career, Stacey Flood believes she is growing into the role of Ireland out-half.
Having featured extensively in the Ireland Sevens programme in recent years, the Dubliner made her debut in the XVs code when Adam Griggs’ side comfortably overcame the challenge of Wales in the opening round of this year’s Women’s Six Nations in April.
Following her cameo role in that game, she also made an appearance off the bench at home to France in the same competition before delivering a player of the match performance in her first start against Italy in a successful third/fourth place play-off at Energia Park.
𝙐𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 🤩🇮🇹
Ireland out-half @StaceyFlood during this evening's Captain's Run in Parma, as the squad finalised preparations for Monday's #RWC2021Qualifier against Spain 👊#NothingLikeIt #IrishRugby #SPAvIRE pic.twitter.com/GwuH5QZzUd
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 12, 2021
She was also handed the number 10 jersey at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on Monday evening as Ireland began their Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier with a 8-7 defeat to Spain. As she prepares to face Italy for a second time in 2021 this Sunday (Kick-off 2pm Irish time), Flood acknowledged the experience of her team-mates is helping the Railway Union kicker to learn on the job.
“I’ve played in high pressure environments. I’ve been playing since I’m 18 in the Sevens. We’ve played in the World Cup and we’ve played on the Series for so many years. I think once you have the backing of the squad, like I’ve been having [it makes it easier]. The girls are so, so supportive. I literally can’t harp on enough about how much they back me up,” Flood said.
“If they see anything, they’ll come to me and say it. It’s critical learning for me. I feel like I’m learning so much, but the more the players around me are helping, it makes it so much easier. Obviously out-half is a really, really important position, but it’s not a one-person squad. It’s a whole 40 players who have trained with us, pushing each other.
“I feel like I’m learning on the job, but it’s so exciting because I’m learning on the job. When something comes off, you’re like ‘we practiced that yesterday in training’ and you’re seeing it happen on the field. Obviously some things in the game last weekend weren’t coming off, but on any other day half of those would be tries.”
When Flood was replaced by Enya Breen in the 56th-minute of the Spanish game, Ireland were 7-3 in front as a result of a Beibhinn Parsons try that was converted by Flood herself. However, a Lea Ducher try in the closing stages ensures the Green Army have been left with no margin for error in their remaining games against Italy and Scotland.
In terms of where Ireland didn’t perform in Monday’s contest, Flood looked at it from a general perspective rather than focusing on just one area.
“Because a lot of things in the game went wrong for us, it’s hard to put your finger on just one thing. Just as a collective, knowing when to pull that trigger and when to say ‘look, we can actually get points on the board here and get some go-forward’. Just punch and punch. Just going back to basics when we have to go back to basics. Not overcomplicating it.
“The most frustrating thing is, we created so many opportunities. It was just a case of ‘we’re not executing this’. When the forwards were firing, the backs weren’t firing. I think it’s a case that it’s kind of everyone needs to look at a team collective.
“It’s not one thing or the other thing. We just need to work as a squad together to have that want and know that, on these big occasions, we have to pull the trigger and get the points when we can.”
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) September 13, 2021
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