Italy result 'won't alter Irish approach to Scots'

Ireland assistant coach John McKee at a training session

Ireland assistant coach John McKee says his side's approach to their final Women's Six Nations game against Scotland will not be dictated by the result of Saturday's opening game between Wales and Italy.

The Scots, the Irish and the Italians are all vying for the third place finish which would secure a place at next year's Women's World Cup.

Scotland occupy that position at present on eight points, with Italy and Ireland two points worse off going into the final round of fixtures.

“We will know exactly what the table will look like going into our last game but as regards our approach to the match, it won’t change anything," said McKee before the Kingspan Stadium encounter.

“The focus for us this week is the performance we bring. What is in our control is how we approach that game, how we play.

"Other things relating to where we finish in the competition depend on other results."

Ireland began their campaign with defeats at the hands of France and Italy, followed by a comprehensive home win over Wales and a heavy 88-10 loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

"It was a tough weekend last weekend, really hard, but credit to Scott [Bemand, head coach] and the players. We addressed that in London and resolved to bounce back.

"We have worked really hard this week, trained well and put ourselves in a position to produce a good performance. We take a lot of confidence from our preparation."

McKee believes Saturday's meeting with the Scots in Belfast will be close.

"Scotland are a well-balanced team across the park - they have lots of ability across their forward pack so we're really going to have to be across our game there because that will lay the platform for us and allow us to put them under some pressure.

"They have made a few changes around their back-line so that will be interesting, some enforced and some selection wise.

"We see it as a couple of very evenly matched teams going into this game."

'Resilience and intensity have improved'

Ireland finished bottom of the table in last year's Women's Six Nations but McKee believes this year's competition has brought improvement in a number of areas, including a more solid scrum, a better line-out, particularly against Wales, and the place kicking of Dannah O'Brien.

“We are starting to develop more depth around our squad, you can see that from our selections - the number of people who can come in and perform at that level.

"That’s very important for us going forward," observed the Ireland assistant.

“Also our conditioning and our general resilience to be able to play at the level of intensity of international rugby has really improved compared to this time 12 months ago.

"That’s reflected in the fact we go into the last game of the campaign and pretty much all our players are available for selection."