Andy Farrell: Strong mentality in defence key to victory

Incoming assistant coach Andy Farrell believes the key to an historic first series win for Ireland in South Africa will be a strong mentality in defence.
Andy Farrell: Strong mentality in defence key to victory

Ireland have never won a Test in South Africa in seven attempts and will play the Springboks on tour over three matches next month against last year’s World Cup semi-finalists, ranked third in the world.

That represents a baptism of fire in Joe Schmidt’s management group for defence coach Farrell.

“My department is defence and it’s going to be tested in South Africa, so I’ve got my hands full,” the former England and Lions coach said. “But the challenge is one that really excites me because I feel that defence is about attitude, and we want to create history so we have to show some real proper attitude. We’ve got a couple of days in camp to get our systems sorted out etc, and then we’ll talk about the mentality to go into the cauldron and win a game in South Africa. That’s my role and it’s up to me to put a stamp on that.”

Having started work as Les Kiss’s successor on April 2, Farrell yesterday said the opportunity to work with head coach Joe Schmidt and a group of players he described as “desperate to get better” made Ireland “the place you want to be”.

And with Ireland going to South Africa for the first time since 2004, that made the upcoming tour a once in a career opportunity to make history and win down there.

“You probably get one chance in your career to go on tour to South Africa. It is different in the southern hemisphere, like a religion. The atmosphere is special, I was over there watching (England in 2012) and it doesn’t really get any better.

“What has to happen to create that history that we talk about is that we have to have belief. On that tour England could have won a game — 100% they could have won one, if not two games. They drew over there and you come back kicking yourself.

“You get one chance, on a tour like this is one opportunity within your career to create history that’s so special. You have to go out there and believe. That’s why I talk about mentality.”

Meanwhile, South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee yesterday appointed hooker Adriaan Strauss as the new captain of the Springboks.

Strauss, 30, has been capped 54 times by his country and succeeds centre Jean de Villiers as the Boks’ 57th Test captain.

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