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Farrell plans to use weekend off to cram for French exam

Ireland coach also revisited last weekend’s disaster in Twickenham and said players ‘did not look after one another well enough’.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

ANDY FARRELL BELIEVES Ireland’s enforced lay-off could end up derailing France’s grand slam bid – pointing out how a similar break in the World Cup ended up working in England and New Zealand’s favour.

Three of the quarter-finalists in Japan – England, France and New Zealand – arrived into their last eight clashes on the back of a weekend off, after Typhoon Hagibis caused chaos with the tournament schedule.

In contrast their respective opponents – Australia, Wales and Ireland – were battle-weary by the time they got to the quarters. And it showed.

While Wales won, they did so on the back of Sebastien Vahaamahina’s indiscipline and needless red card. After the second row was dismissed, Wales recovered from 19-10 down to reach the semis.

Now it’s France who will face potential fatigue in round five of the championship, their date with Ireland coming a week after they travel to Murrayfield. In contrast, Farrell’s concerns centre around getting his team to peak fitness after two idle weeks.

“Well if you use your recovery wisely, hopefully you will have a full bill of health – so providing you get your intensity right in your training sessions then you will be at the pitch of it, come match day,” Farrell said.

“So, that would be the plan for the coming two weeks and hopefully we’ll get that right.

“We had a good session against the Irish U20s yesterday. We needed that blowout and hopefully we’ll get a similar type of session against somebody else next week. We’ve got a plan to try and get ourselves better. 

“We’re not trying to stand still over the next couple of weeks. If we get our preparation right, we can take advantage of the rests over the weekend.

“We saw at the World Cup how teams took advantage of a weekend off.”

all-blacks-beauden-barrett-and-irelands-conor-murray New Zealand's freshness helped them against Ireland in the quarters.

Instead of being in Dublin thinking of Italy, Farrell’s mind will be on France from now until March 14. Well, kind of. The haunting memories of last Sunday won’t disappear until his team win a significant game again.

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“The best thing about the France game is how similar it is to the one we just had,” Farrell said. “Everyone said at the start that they expected us to win the three home games and then the challenge was always going to be the two away ones.

“We’re gutted with our last performance (against England) but going to Paris is very similar in many ways to playing England because they’re a big, strong, aggressive side that kick the ball a hell of a lot, who pressurise you in your own half, have good solid defence, a good set piece and who challenge you physically.

“So we’ll how far we’re gonna get over the next few weeks.”

 The lesson, from Twickenham, was simple – Farrell maintains. And it comes down to physicality.

We felt that we didn’t look after one another well enough,” Farrell said. “And we felt that we fed them what they were looking for at tines really. And that’s the learning from Sunday.”

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Garry Doyle

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