Fresh from making his Ireland debut in Saturday’s GUINNESS Series Test against Fiji, Munster centre Chris Farrell is already eager to build on his maiden performance in green.
Following a three-year stint with French club Grenoble, Chris Farrell returned to Ireland to take up a contract with Munster in the summer and subsequently put himself in the frame for an Ireland call-up.
The Fivemiletown man admitted that it was always his intention to come back to his native land, and although Fiji were close to spoiling the party in a tight affair, it was admittedly an ‘amazing’ feeling for Farrell to make a winning start to his Ireland career.
“I enjoyed it as much as I could. It feels amazing to have my debut. It took a little detour to get here. I went around the world, went to France and came back, but it was always in my goals to come back, and hopefully get a chance to play at this level,” explained the powerfully-built centre.
“Thankfully that came. I’ve had that now, and I just need to build on that. Because one cap is nothing. It’s all about building on that, and hopefully putting in a few more performances.”
While in France, he was coached by former Leinster, Connacht and Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, and scored 10 tries in 74 appearances. The 24-year-old revealed that Joe Schmidt was in direct contact with him during his time abroad, and even reviewed a few of the games that he played with Grenoble.
“Throughout the three years, I kept in touch with Joe and other people back in Ireland. That was obviously helpful. He reviewed a few games of my time over there, and gave me stuff to work on and things to do. It’ll be no different after this week. It will be a lot of work-ons, a lot of stuff to look back at tomorrow, Monday morning, and it’s just to keep building on that now.”
Before moving to France, Farrell played at his native province of Ulster, and he was joined in the Irish midfield on Saturday by one of their current stars. Stuart McCloskey picked up his second cap at inside centre, and while their previous game-time together was minimal, he was glad to have the Bangor clubman alongside him.
“I know Stuart quite well. We never played together in Ulster. We played maybe at club level once (with Dungannon). It was good to have him there. It was difficult out there, it was really difficult. It was more physical than I thought it was probably going to be. It was a real shock to the system, but we bonded well. We had a few nice phases together, but we also lost a few balls.
“I think when we came in at half-time, there was 11 turnovers against us and that’s just not the standards that we drive. We’ll know about that come Monday, come the review, but that’s the kind of thing that can change games. Losing balls in key areas, and whenever you can’t put phases together. Because you can’t look after the ball, that’s going to hurt you.”
It was always likely to be a day to remember for Farrell. Fiji fought until the bitter end, but Ireland ultimately maintained their unbeaten run, with six wins on the trot now stretching back to the final round of last season’s Six Nations Championship.
With the flying Fijians providing a strong physical challenge throughout, the hosts had to grind out a 23-20 victory, and Farrell agreed that ‘it makes it extra special that we really had to grind it out’.
He continued: “We had to work really hard for it. We talked during the week about how their individuals, on paper, are probably good enough to beat us if they are on their best form.
“Their individuals would beat us hands down. but they also said our collective would look after their individuals, and our collective would beat them. We didn’t show that throughout the whole performance, but in the end, we ground it out…just focusing on our own roles…and I guess that makes it extra special.”