European champion Fran Kirby has one piece of advice for the England women’s rugby team in their own quest for glory – believe.
The 29-year-old from Reading started every game of the Lionesses’ victorious campaign but underlines the importance of the buy-in of every single member of Sarina Wiegman’s squad.
The striker was speaking at the premiere of ‘Wear the Rose: An England Rugby Dream’, a two-part behind-the-scenes documentary which has followed the Red Roses in the build-up to New Zealand.
“We had some amazing players that played, and we had some really good performances, but I think off the pitch was just as important,” Kirby said.
“Every player felt a value to the team, you take a squad of 23 you can only play 11 plus six subs, how do you make every player feel that they’re part of creating something and building something?
“I think that was key in why we were successful is that everyone bought into it. And it’s difficult, it’s not an easy environment to be in, you’re with the same people for nearly 10 weeks.
“It’s difficult to keep that 100% every single day, but everyone really bought into it.
“That would be my biggest advice is, everyone invest in it, everyone buy into it because at the end of the day if you walk away with a gold medal, no one’s going to know if you played or not.”
While the diminutive Chelsea forward will not be swapping her shinpads for a scrum cap any time soon, Kirby relished the chance to see how another international team operates.
She said: “I remember speaking to one of the girls, and they said the day after a game, they do a weight session, there’s no way I could do a weight session after a football game!
“I think that I am really interested in terms of how they deal with pressure, going to New Zealand, people are labelling them as favourites.
“How do they deal with that pressure? How do they deal with the psychological side of it?”
With the Lionesses now among the favourites for the FIFA World Cup next year, Kirby, who almost missed the Euros with a fatigue issue, will soon be turning the tables and asking the Red Roses for advice.
“It’ll be how best to adjust the time difference. That’s going to be a massive part of it and the travelling that you must do alongside it,” she added.
“It’s quite a long slog, you play a game and the next day, you’ve got to fly. Managing all of that and how to recover the body properly to be able to go again.
“I think that would be interesting to hear how they adjust to the time zones, to the travel. For me, that’s something that I think is super important in order to be refreshed and ready to go again.”
Wear the Rose: An England Rugby Dream, a one-of-a-kind documentary co-funded by O2 and RFU on the Red Roses journey to New Zealand, will be aired on 3 and 4 October on ITV and available on the ITV Hub.