Andy Farrell: Painful Twickenham experience will stand to players

The Ireland head coach will continue to build depth in his squad when Georgia visit the Aviva Stadium for the Autumn Nations Cup tie this Sunday
Andy Farrell: Painful Twickenham experience will stand to players

The Ireland team dejected after the game against England last week. Picture: INPHO/Craig Mercer

Andy Farrell insists that the lessons learned from last weekend's 18-7 loss to England in Twickenham will stand to players feeling their way at international and a squad that is experiencing considerable change in a short period of time.

Shane Daly will become the 10th player handed a Test debut if he comes off the bench against Georgia this Sunday and the shift from club rugby to the international domain is not a straightforward one for most who make that jump.

Both Ross Byrne and James Lowe came in for particular criticism after that loss in London. Former England winger Chris Ashton and Shane Horgan both found fault with Lowe and the ex-Ireland international suggested that Byrne played far too deep.

Farrell preferred to focus on the collective when asked about such observations and attempted to put the overall effort of a side struggling for form against the bigger nations in the wider context of an Autumn Nations Cup which is being used to widen the playing pool.

“Well, obviously they are more than entitled to their opinion. Again, for us, it is a priceless experience. Nobody gave us a chance when we went to England anyway and then we come away with an 18-7 loss when we all know what happened within the game.

“We probably lost our way a little bit at times and that's what pressure does to you. One of the experiences of sticking to the task is always a good one going forward because these are the priceless experiences you take from playing in the big games.

How do you get experience? Unless you get out there and feel it. Ross and James, and many more, will learn priceless learnings from that.

A small playing pool is only ever one or two injuries away from a crisis, he explained, and the process of building a bulwark against this demands that players be given their chance. Not all opportunities will be married with the best performances, he reasoned.

Farrell has made nine personnel changes for the Georgian encounter but then his hand has been directed in part by injuries.

Robbie Henshaw and Jonathan Sexton are still in rehab after the issues which saw them sidelined last week, Lowe faces a scan today for an adductor muscle issue, Andrew Conway hasn't trained for a few days with a hamstring problem and Ed Byrne is nursing a calf strain.

This next outing will provide a first start at 10 for Billy Burns, a run at loosehead for Finlay Bealham and just a fourth appearance in five years for Stuart McCloskey in the centre. Not to mention that prospective debut for Munster's Daly.

“Shane is the special one, isn't it? To be able to give someone the opportunity to make his debut off the bench for his country is a special moment for him and his family.

“He is a guy that has had a bit of bad luck throughout this tournament. He was injured three or four weeks before he came into camp and then he came in fully fit but re-injured a groin issue. He missed a couple of weeks but he has fitted in unbelievably well.

“We always talk about the different pressures of an international training camp for a youngster. He has fitted in very well. Very excited to see him. He is a player that can cover many positions for us as well.”

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