Andy Farrell eyes the bigger picture

Ireland insist Andy Farrell is too “professional” to let preparing a team to nullify his son Owen cloud his coaching for today’s RBS 6 Nations clash with England.

Both forwards coach Simon Easterby and captain Rory Best moved to laud Ireland defence specialist Andy Farrell’s work in the build-up to the crucial Aviva Stadium showdown.

Easterby and Best freely admit Farrell senior can highlight traits of his son’s individual game, but remain adamant the 41-year-old will have little insider information stemming from his time in the England camp.

Farrell was part of the England set-up for four years before joining Joe Schmidt’s Ireland in April 2016, but will now face his old employers - and his son - for the first time.

“I think Andy understands their psyche, and having been in the other camp he understands maybe how they might approach an Ireland-England match,” said Easterby.

“Faz is far too professional, and understands he can offer some insight with his familiarity with a lot of individual players, but that their group has moved on from when he was there.

“They have a few different coaches in. Like with Wales I know a few of their players and might have known a few of their traits, so I think we all try to offer some insight into individuals when we’re working through a week depending on who we’re playing against.

“And it’s been no different this week with Andy and what he’s been able to deliver, on top of his usual work that he puts in.”

Farrell lost his job with England as Stuart Lancaster’s entire coaching team was disbanded after the dismal showing at World Cup 2015.

Ireland wasted little time in drafting in the former dual-code international however, with head coach Schmidt viewing Farrell as the ideal replacement for Les Kiss.

Farrell’s simple, direct messages have found favour with Ireland’s players, with captain Best praising his work behind the scenes.

Andy and Owen Farrell once turned out together for Saracens’ 2nd XV but are yet to face off as opposing coach and player.

With England gunning for a second-successive Grand Slam and world-record 19th consecutive victory in Dublin though, Best insisted Andy Farrell will have had little extra thought for any contest between father and son.

“Andy’s very professional in his approach,” said Best.

“He’s given us the same delivery that he always gives us defensively; he shows us where they are going to try to attack us, how we are going to be better, and how we’re going to stop them.

“And that’s the way he’s been since he’s come in last summer, and I don’t think anyone expected it to change, and it hasn’t.”

Ireland will go into a pivotal Test match under Schmidt for the first time without a fit and available Devin Toner in the starting line-up.

Hooker Best remains convinced of Iain Henderson and Donnacha Ryan’s abilities to run Ireland’s lineout and fend off one of England’s strengths, however.

“We wouldn’t have put the team out that we have if we weren’t comfortable that we can win ball,” said Best.

“If you look at them, the way they’ve played, not just the Six Nations but right through those last 18 games, they have put a lot of pressure through in that area, there’s no doubt about that.

“If they guess right and get two inches in front of us, we have to put that behind us and move on to the next lineout.

“The big thing now is that we have the confidence to stick to our plan and the courage as much as anything to go after that.”

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