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Andy Farrell – Ireland Head Coach on Six Nations, Autumn Schedule and Lockdown

Andy Farrell – Ireland Head Coach on Six Nations, Autumn Schedule and Lockdown

Ireland have one of the meanest defences in the Guinness Six Nations with seven tries conceded during the first three rounds ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell spoke to IrishRugby.ie today following the announcement from Six Nations on the rescheduling of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations games against Italy and France.

Ireland’s two postponed games will now take place at the end of October.  Ireland can win the Championship with two bonus point wins but Farrell and his coaching team know it won’t be any easy task.

“There is a little bit of destiny in your own hands although it will be a tough old task with the games that have to come.  We’ve got to perform against Italy first haven’t we, we have to get what we want out of that game and they are going to be tough first game up.  All the lads are aware what is coming around the corner for them in so far as the big games for the provinces first which will get them selected to get them back into that 6 Nations and it’s there to be won.  We’ve got to be hungry to do that and not be frightened by that.” 

 The Six Nations also announced that a new eight team tournament would take place in November and December.  Farrell is looking forward to the challenge:

“Any competition that you are involved in you want to win it.  We certainly would never shy away from that. What the tournament would bring you would have thought with all the big games that is going to happen before we get into the international autumn series is that you would probably tend to utilise a squad that may be a little bit bigger than normal simply because of the run of games and the back to back week that is world cup-esque. 

 “I suppose the buzzword over the next couple of months is going to be adaptability isn’t it.  We’ve all got to do that.  I think its super exciting a different competition, two new teams that is going to be in the competition.  A competition that is going to be world cup like in a way along with the two games that we have left in the Six Nations it could mean that we are together for eight of nine weeks which is great for us going forward.

 The calendar is packed obviously, but its packed with quality, quality games and it’s what we all want to be part of.”

Following a long lay off the national coaching group have had time to reflect on the first three performances in the Six Nations and are looking forward to seeing how the players have utilised the shutdown period.

“I suppose that’s up to the individual in these unprecedented time that they take the best of what’s in front of them and use it wisely.   That’s what we will be looking for when the PRO14 resumes on the 22nd August to see who’s had no excuses to make sure that they get better as a player.  I know that speaking to a lot of the players they have used it wisely, I know they have reflected on what they need to progress their games with so we’ll see what people make of it from day one on the 22nd August and that’s what we will be looking at.

“The season starting again without warm-up games is a little bit new to them.  They’ll have prepared for that at the provinces.  They’ll have prepared for the squads to get through these periods.   I’m sure they will do things a little bit differently because you’d expect the interpros to kick off with a bang and utilising the squads at the same time is going to be key for everyone.

 22nd August the season starts again and although the dates have been announced for us on the 24th October to play the Italy game the season starts and everyone is watching from the 22nd August so hopefully we can all rip in together.”

Looking back on how the squad and coaching group felt when the Six Nations was postponed back in March, Farrell describes the disappointment of the group in the wake of the England result in Twickenham.

 “We were gutted that the competition didn’t keep rolling on because of obviously after a disappointing game against England the only thing that the boys wanted to do was get back on the horse again.  We’d had a great reflection week and we were brimming to go over to Paris and see what we could do.   We were gutted we trained on the Tuesday morning and got told at lunchtime that the game was going to be off.   

 So there was a lot of disappointment really and we didn’t quite know what was going to happen at the time and here we are still not played since.  We were a little bit disappointed but having said that to be able to reflect on the short campaign and know what’s in front of us has been a good time to use.”