Andy Farrell ignoring talk of silverware as Ireland focus on Scots

Beat their Celtic neighbours this weekend and it will be a 12th Triple Crown for the men in green, even if France are likely to thwart ambitions of a title
Andy Farrell ignoring talk of silverware as Ireland focus on Scots

Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Kildare 16/3/2022

Andy Farrell has brushed talk of possible silverware to one side as Ireland brace for their Six Nations finale at home to the Scots on Saturday.

His captain Johnny Sexton teed up this latest Championship campaign when looking ahead to this very encounter at the tournament launch in January and highlighting how rare it has been for the side to claim a trophy on home soil.

The last time that was the case was 2010 when Scotland spoiled the triple Crown party at Croke Park and it is 2004 since the same prize was secured against the same opposition at the old Lansdowne Road.

Beat their Celtic neighbours this weekend and it will be a 12th Triple Crown for the men in green, even if France are likely to thwart any ambitions of a title trophy when they face England in Paris later in the evening.

“We have put ourselves in a position to (win something), which is nice, but as you would expect me to say, this is just about this game and getting the preparation right and we have a couple of days left to make sure that we are at our best,” said Farrell after selecting his XV and matchday 23.

“We are under no illusions that Scotland will be at their best, they have nothing to lose. They are a great side coming to the Aviva trying to spoil a little bit of a party but how do you manage that? You get across your preparation and make sure that you take your learnings and hopefully go out there and bring our best performance of the tournament.”

Ireland approach the fifth round on the back of a record away win against England which was secured in spite of a traumatic day in the scrums where they were penalised half-a-dozen times by French referee Mathieu Raynal.

The Irish front row was clearly furious at what they perceived to be illegal moves on the part of those facing them and Farrell alluded to that when asked if the issues experienced at the setpiece had now been resolved.

“Yes,” said the head coach. “Good learnings all round for us and for the officials so we are happy with the feedback that we got. So the focus has been just about us and making sure we get our own house in order.”

Scotland, currently in fourth place in the table and with nothing concrete to play for, present a very different challenge in Dublin, not least because Gregor Townsend has made the surprise decision to replace star out-half Finn Russell with Blair Kinghorn.

Townsend was more interested in talking about why Kinghorn has been given the nod than the reasons for Russell to be dropped but the latter’s form has not been electric this spring and the younger man needs to add to a CV boasting just one Test start.

Farrell says it won’t change how Ireland do their job.

“Surprised? Yes and no. I mean, I think everyone was expecting Finn to play, he’s a great player, but I watched the Connacht game and Blair was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. We know him well, we know his strengths.

“He’s very dangerous with the ball in hand. He takes the ball on, is very dangerous counter-attack wise, good passing game, good kicking game as well, and it’s a big game for him obviously. Gregor’s had a look at him and picked on form because his last game for Edinburgh was outstanding.”

The Scots are well capable of being sticky opposition even if their recent record in Dublin, and against Ireland, is terrible but the hosts should be far too strong even as they chase a far more complete performance than yet managed this year.

Farrell’s side has played some fantastic rugby and scored some superb tries but their ambitious brand of attack has come unstuck too often in the last two games against Italy and England while, ultimately, seeing them through on both occasions.

“Look, nobody makes an error on purpose, do they? Errors are common and how we dealt with them was the impressive part,” said Farrell. “You look back on great performances that we have had in the recent past and some of those passes stick, don’t they? Sometimes the opposition has something to do with it.

“Sometimes our ambition was good, some of the decisions were great, sometimes the execution wasn’t perfect. We watch, we learn, we are honest and we take our learnings and put it into practice during the week. We’ll keep having the endeavour to keep improving our attack.”

More in this section

Sport Push Notifications

By clicking on 'Sign Up' you will be the first to know about our latest and best sporting content on this browser.

Sign Up

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd