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ANDY FARRELL HAS strong foundations to build on as he takes over from Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach, but he also has the burden of expectation.
Schmidt transformed Ireland from sometimes contenders into a consistent force in Test rugby, sweeping to a series of historic firsts before his reign ended with the dejection of failure to deliver at this World Cup in Japan.
So as Farrell takes over – becoming the top dog for the first time in his coaching career – Irish rugby expects this Ireland team to remain the competitive beast of recent years, as well as driving on to the improvement that is clearly necessary to finally get beyond the quarter-final stage at the 2023 World Cup.
Farrell is Ireland’s new head coach.
Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
44-year-old Farrell will be very hopeful of getting off to a strong start in 14 weeks’ time as the Six Nations kicks off at home to Scotland. A slow opening championship would only add to the dejection caused by this World Cup in Japan, and might even lead to early question marks over his appointment.
Importantly, Farrell has plenty of quality to work with as the new era begins.
Captain Rory Best is the only player definitely retiring in the wake of this tournament, with other veterans like 34-year-old Johnny Sexton and 33-year-old fullback Rob Kearney having stated their intentions to continue playing.
There will be calls for Farrell to immediately rip up the script and begin the process of building towards 2023 by blooding younger players into the starting team but the new boss has to consider that Six Nations success is a crucial lifeblood for the IRFU.
Squad stalwarts like CJ Stander – who had an excellent World Cup – Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, and Bundee Aki are sure to have big parts to play moving forward. It’s a shame fo
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