Rugby Rúaidhrí O’Connor: ‘An attacking revolution, mental overhaul and squad makeover – what Andy Farrell must do to rebuild Ireland’

Rugby This is one huge ingredient.

Rugby Transitional phase is inevitable as new man faces a mammoth task


Rugby New direction: Incoming Ireland head coach Andy Farrell will look to make the team his own, something the likes of Conor Murray will have to adjust to. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
New direction: Incoming Ireland head coach Andy Farrell will look to make the team his own, something the likes of Conor Murray will have to adjust to. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The night before Andy Farrell was confirmed as Ireland’s next head coach, Joe Schmidt was crowned World Rugby’s Coach of the Year in Monaco.

Much of the focus that day centred around the New Zealander’s contribution to Leinster and Irish rugby and when the succession plan was assessed, the analysis largely centred around the big shoes the Englishman would have to fill.

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Eleven months later, the task looks an even tougher one for very different reasons.

It is unclear as to how the coaching transition will actually manifest itself, but in essence the changeover happened at full-time in Tokyo when the two men sat side by side, watching in horror as New Zealand punished Ireland’s errors and ran in seven tries to bring another World Cup campaign to an end at the quarter-final stage.

Even as Schmidt gave his interviews and held his press conference, his time in charge was at an end and Farrell was assessing what he’d just witnessed through the prism of how he now must pick up the pieces.

He has major decisions to make, from the captaincy and the way he treats a damaged leadership group to the strategy for regenerating a stale team and a game-plan that has been left behind by the major nations in the last 12 months.

In 14 weeks, Ireland open their Six Nations campaign at home to Scotland in what will be Farrell’s first as the main man.

The make-up of his squad and the identity of his captain will tell us much about the direction he wants to take things. Then, we’ll see what approach he’s taking.

Between now and then, he has a number of big calls to consider.

Rugby 1 – The senior men

Steve Hansen’s comments on experience should be nailed to the wall at the union HQ.

Essentially, the All Blacks coach said that Ireland’s experience of losing quarter-finals meant it was no use to them when it came to the pressurised environment of facing the world’s best team with history on the line.

Schmidt put his faith in his senior players, sticking with them despite losses in form and advance years.

Sure, Devin Toner and Jack McGrath might question the notion that the Kiwi was loyal but as Ne

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