Six Nations squad will be picked on form, not reputation, promises Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell promised his Ireland squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations will be picked on form, not reputation.

Six Nations squad will be picked on form, not reputation, promises Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell promised his Ireland squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations will be picked on form, not reputation.

The new national team head coach, who last month stepped up from his previous role as defence coach to succeed Joe Schmidt after Ireland’s disappointing World Cup quarter-final exit in Japan, on Monday concluded a 24-hour mini-training camp at the IRFU’s new High Performance facility based on the Sport Ireland Campus in west Dublin.

But he warned the 45-player group he had gathered for the mid-season stocktake that their inclusion was not a guarantee of inclusion for the upcoming championship, which begins with a home game against Scotland on February 1.

Farrell, who welcomed incoming attack coach Mike Catt and scrum coach John Fogarty into the camp, also referenced the omission from his training-camp gathering of veteran full-back Rob Kearney when he said: “As you can see this squad was based on form and we can’t include everyone in the camp.

“So we had to make a decision somewhere along the line. I’ve made it very clear to all the boys who’ve been in camp here over the last 24 hours that certainly this isn’t selection for the Six Nations.

“I’ve made it very clear to them what it is going to take for them to get selected. I’ve spoken to Rob but also other players who are not here and told them we will be watching them over this Christmas period.

“There are some big games in Ireland and then all the big games in Europe during January. It’s a big time for all the players and hopefully we will be picking a squad in January that is brimming with form.

Form has to be at the forefront of selection. It’s not everything. You obviously look at what players will bring to the squad in terms of what they will add. Is what they have going to make the team play better?

“We want people sticking their heads above the parapet and saying, ‘please pick me’. That’s what we want to see over the next four or five weeks and I’m looking forward to watching that.”

Farrell’s words will also provide an incentive for those, including Kearney, who missed out on selection this time around.

“I’m sure players who are not here this weekend will be in the squad but we’ll see. We can’t pick 45 anyway. Maybe there are players that you would expect to get picked, who have already been in this camp, who may not get picked the next time.

“I’ve said to the boys leaving now that we need to be ready when we come into camp the next time. We’ve been watching the form over the last four or five weeks. But it’s not a line that is drawn and everyone is on it.

“I’ve explained to them that it is not about being just one of four or five but you have to stand out, you’ve got to make it clear and obvious to everyone that you’re desperate to be in the squad.

“There are people who’ve trained over the last 24 hours and they’ll take stock of those words and hopefully help with their performances for the provinces over the next month. And some of them may fall by the wayside as well. But we’ll assess it as we go."

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