Andy Farrell feels Ireland will continue to have a bright future when he takes charge

Andy Farrell feels Ireland will continue to have a bright future when he takes charge

Andy Farrell is fully prepared for the life-changing demands of being Ireland head coach when he takes over from Joe Schmidt after this year's World Cup in Japan.

Farrell's appointment was confirmed in late November but he spoke to the media for the first time since on Friday afternoon after an open training session at the Aviva Stadium in what is a down week for the Six Nations.

“A great moment obviously,” he said of his impending elevation. “I'm proud and privileged to be asked to take over after such a brilliant coach like Joe. Fortunately enough as well, I get a bit of time to keep on learning in the meantime.

“It's a massive honour to be given the opportunity. Why? Because it's a privilege to be involved with a group. The people that we've got; the players, the staff. The players are great people to work with. I feel where we're going in the future is a bright place as well.”

Schmidt won't be the only one of the team coaching staff to depart after the World Cup. Highly-rated scrum guru Greg Feek will also end his long and fruitful association with Irish rugby in the aftermath while Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy are to continue on.

Farrell's current gig is defence coach – once which he has held to equally great acclaim with England and the Lions in times past – but he was coy about whether he will continue to hold that brief and any other changes to the staff down the line.

“We'll see. There's different permutations when a coaching team come together, when a management team come together. It's all about gels and fits. As things become clearer over the next couple of months, we'll get to that.”

Farrell's priority for now is that none of the forward planning that has to be done detracts from the job at hand as Ireland face into Saturday week's third round tie against Italy in Rome before another week off and the closing laps against France, at home, and Wales in Cardiff.

The former rugby league great was adamant that another Six Nations title is still within Ireland's grasp, although the opening day loss to England has punctured a considerable hole int he team's immediate ambitions and one only partially repaired by the win in Scotland

“In the England game, I take my hat off to them. They were outstanding on the day. There were a couple of areas within our game that hurt us. There were probably two or three or four errors that cost us dearly. That's what top line rugby is all about.

“When I was asked the question before about were we happy about Scotland game, we had one try scored against us and that was an intercept. But there are still five or six things to fix. We're constantly looking to improve, looking to get an edge with our defence and our whole game.

“We're in a good place. We are. Because the players care about getting better, they care massively. We've got three more games in this competition to keep on improving and we'll see where we go after that.”

Farrell also revealed that Jonathan Sexton will be fit to face the Italians in eight days' time. The out-half took a full part in Friday's session having suffered a head injury and being replaced during the first-half in Murrayfield last week.

“(Sexton) is fine, yeah, he trained fully,” said Farrell, “he’ll be ready to go.”

Robbie Henshaw should be fit to train but, while Garry Ringrose will be assessed at the same time, he is less likely to feature against the Azzurri.

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