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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Andy Farrell reveals why he has a major headache ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations Championship clash against Wales

IRELAND banished talk of a World Cup hangover with their stunning win in France.

But Andy Farrell has admitted that after they backed that up with a 36-0 victory against Italy he has been left with a major headache.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell banished talk of a RWC hangover with the win over France

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell banished talk of a RWC hangover with the win over France
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has selection headaches after Sunday's win over Italy

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has selection headaches after Sunday’s win over Italy

Ireland bounced back from their quarter-final exit by beating Les Bleus by a record 38-17 scoreline in Marseille.

And, despite six changes to his starting line-up, his side were every bit as ruthless in putting the Azzurri to the sword.

It has given Farrell plenty of pause for thought ahead of Ireland’s next game, at home to Wales, on Saturday week.

Farrell said: ”That’s what we wanted, and that’s what we do it for, to give people a chance because if you’ve no headaches we’re in the wrong place as a group.

“So we’ve got a few more, haven’t we, after that performance? And we welcome that and so do the rest of the squad.”

The competition is particularly keen in the second row. Joe McCarthy excelled on his Six Nations debut in the Stade Vélodrome alongside Tadhg Beirne.

The 22-year-old was retained against Italy, with James Ryan promoted from the bench, where Iain Henderson took his place with Beirne – the most-used Ireland player this season – given a well-earned rest.

Farrell said: “It is exactly where it should be and I think it worked nicely this week.

“All four of them are in very good form, and it means a lot.

“James was always going to try and prove a point, Iain Henderson has been outstanding, absolutely, off the bench in the last few games that he’s done that for us.

“Big Joe keeps rumbling on, you know, Tadhg Beirne was immense last week so competition for that is exactly the way it should be.

“We call those when it comes to selection a great problem to have and as it comes down to the type of game and the opposition that we’re playing against.”

For Ryan, being left out of the starting XV was something of a wake-up call given he had skippered Ireland in the past and, for some time, was being viewed as permanent captain material.

TEAM PLAYER

But Farrell said: “He is a team player.

“And you know what’s the best example of that.

“You heard me say before Peter O’Mahony got dropped a good few years ago for Caelan Doris.

“And he was the first one to, not whinge and moan about it but to help Caelan to be as prepared as he possibly could be.

“When you’ve got examples like that, it shows what it matters to be a team player for Ireland.

“People follow that type of example, and James has done exactly the same, he’d  taken a lot of responsibility on the shoulders in regards to calling the line-out which was fantastic.”

Farrell expects Wales to take the positives of their narrow defeat to England with them to Dublin.

He said: “For anyone to be in with a shot at Twickenham, they’re going to have to put up a gutsy performance. They’ll look to build on that now.

“The tournament has just started for us now. It’s a good start but all the Triple Crown games coming together it’s going to be an exciting middle and end to this tournament.”

And he believes his side’s achievement in shutting out Italy is a sign of their intent as well as talent.

IRELAND INTENT

He said: “You’ve got to want to keep people out and the hunger to do that was obvious. It’s obvious as well that points mattered. It isn’t just about scoring tries, it’s keeping them the opposition to a minimum.

“Our game is becoming more joined up and if your game is more joined up then you’re able to have the energy to be able to defend like we did.

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“If our set-piece is so dominant it gives you a little bit more energy because you’re playing on the front more and in the right parts of the field as far as our attacking game is concerned. Not over playing gives you more energy with our defence.

“I thought we were well in control as far as our defence is concerned, which is unbelievably pleasing.”



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