Canada finished runners-up at the last World Cup
The Irish women's rugby team take on their Canadian counterparts in UCD tomorrow looking to bounce back from last week's defeat.
A late converted try from Izzy Noel-Smith gave World Champions England a 12-10 victory, and with Ireland looking to get one back on their opponents, former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan assessed the challenge the Canadian team pose.
Speaking exclusively to Newstalk.com she said: "I think people don’t realise how successful the Canadian women’s team have been, and what they’ve done. They have a really good under-18, under-20 and senior programme.
"They have a professional 7s team. They have girls coming in at younger ages. They have a schools programme in place. Their clubs are quite strong," she added.
Looking ahead to tomorrow's match she said: "They’ve named a really strong side to come out against Ireland. An Ireland side that is a little less experienced, particularly in the pack. It’s going to be tough for the Irish girls."
"In saying that, Ireland have had a game already, and Canada haven’t played since the Summer Series. That said, they won all three games against USA England and France in that – and they quite comprehensively beat England as well."
Image: Ireland's captain Paula Fitzpatrick talks to the team after the match. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
"They’ll be coming out here to make a statement of intent. They play New Zealand, and then go on and play England, meaning they will probably eye a less experienced Irish team to make that statement."
Asked why Canada, being a non-traditional rugby nation, have been so successful at women's level, the former Irish international said: "The women’s game in general in the world is quite young and quite new, but they have the numbers to choose from.
"I think this is only their second tour that the players didn’t have to pay for themselves, so financially they weren’t as well supported as other teams. They probably didn’t have as much competition outside of World Cups and the odd Summer Series or Nations Cup as the European teams. I just think their domestic pathways are a lot better than Ireland's are at the moment," she added.
Kick-off tomorrow is at 14.00 at the Belfield Bowl in UCD, and the game will also be streamed live on the IRFU's YouTube channel, which can be found here.