Ireland captain Rory Best has backed Andy Farrell to thrive as Ireland head coach, when he replaces Joe Schmidt after next year’s World Cup.
Farrell has bounced back from losing his England coaching job under Stuart Lancaster after the 2015 World Cup to star in back-room roles for both Ireland and the Lions.
The 43-year-old will be breaching new territory as a head coach, but Best insists Farrell will take the transition in his stride.
Best said: “I don’t see any reason at all why not, I think he did a lot more in England than he does with us.
“From what I gather he took a bit of the attack there. Here he takes the defence and Joe (Schmidt) the attack. Andy is a very smart rugby player, he was when he played and he is as a coach.
“When you get somebody like that and you put them into an environment like we’ve been in for the last couple of years, he’s going to learn a lot from Joe Schmidt.
“Joe’s biggest legacy is going to be the coaches he leaves behind.
Once the trophies have all been packed up and the dust has settled on them, it will be the coaches, the likes of Andy Farrell, Simon Easterby, Richie Murphy, some of the players he’s coached too, you see it with Leo Cullen now; that is going to be his lasting legacy.
Farrell will face a tall order building on Schmidt’s excellence, but Best believes the former Wigan rugby league star has all the right attributes for success. “I think probably the thing that Faz (Farrell) does better than any other coach, he makes it feel personal for him,” said Best.
“He really buys into it. He stands in front of you, he’s a big frame, and he speaks, and it’s impossible not to like him.
“But when he talks about defence, he makes you want to go and defend. If he talks about any aspect of the game, you just want to buy into it.”
“He is driven. It’s all about perfection, it’s all about being driven and trying to be better.
Schmidt’s influence has been all-encompassing in his eight years and counting in Ireland.
His attention to detail became legendary and Best knows just how imposing teams under the New Zealander’s watch can be.
The Ulsterman described games against Schmidt’s Leinster side as a “nightmare” and elaborated on the helplessness felt whenever Leinster built up a lead of more than one score. No man has benefited more from that aura in terms of trophies than Rob Kearney.
The full-back is the most decorated Irish rugby player in history and the majority of his haul was collected under Schmidt. Like Best, Kearney landed on the influence his boss will have on future coaches and the culture of coaching long after his departure.
“Is there another Joe Schmidt out there? Probably not. As an Irish rugby team we have been really blessed to have his services over the last five, six years.”
Eddie O’Sullivan believes there is no fear that Schmidt’s impending exit will lead to any player subconsciously taking their foot off the pedal between now and Japan.
“If a coach is on his way out the door in every sport that makes a difference but I think where we are at the moment is pretty unique,” the former Ireland head coach told RTÉ yesterday.
We’ve set ourselves up to be in a place where we’re going to the Rugby World Cup with a chance of possibly winning it, I think everyone will be focused on that, laser-focused on that. It’ll be a good stepping off point for Joe as well if we have a huge World Cup so I don’t think anyone’s going to let the fact that he’s leaving impact on our business.