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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Farrell hails Ireland's character and points to 'priceless' lessons against England

The Ireland head coach was positive about his team’s performance in defeat at Twickenham.

Caelan Doris came in for praise from his head coach.
Caelan Doris came in for praise from his head coach.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND BOSS ANDY Farrell has hailed his team’s character in their 18-7 Autumn Nations Cup defeat to England at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones’ side won thanks to two first-half tries from Jonny May, as well as eight points from the boot of Owen Farrell, with Ireland smothered by a dominant England defensive performance.

But Farrell, who succeeded Joe Schmidt after last year’s World Cup, stated his pride in the Irish performance and argued that they will learn valuable lessons from the defeat.

“Some of that stuff out there is absolutely priceless for us,” said Farrell.

“I heard James [Ryan, Ireland's captain] say before about the journey that we’re on in comparison to England – it’s a completely different side of the spectrum really.

“That England side have been together for 10 years, they’ve been through some massive ups and downs. It’s those down times they’ve learned from most and they’ve become a fantastic side. We’re on a completely different journey.

“We’ll learn a lot about playing against a really good side, number two in the world, at home. We’ll learn invaluable experiences from dealing with pressure basically, the pressure that they put on – whether we’re going to stick to task or making decisions or going into our shells, etc.

“We’ll analyse all those decisions and make sure we take some good learning from it.

“But I thought the character, as you would expect from any Irish side, was second to none, especially in that second half.

“Some individuals became proper international players, I would have thought. There were some immense performances and from guys that would look back and be a little bit disappointed, they’ll be bigger and better for the experience as well.”

peter-omahony-dejected-after-the-game A disappointed Peter O'Mahony in London. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Farrell had particular praise for number eight Caelan Doris.

“You talk about tough and sometimes you have to take the ball into a brick wall and take your medicine. The amount of times that Caelan Doris came out on the other side was unbelievable, the amount of times that he kept offering himself.

“James being captain for the first time, what an experience for him. I thought he played tough, really tough.

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“The lads starting for the first time, Jamison [Gibson Park], Hugo [Keenan], Billy [Burns], etc., they will all be better for this experience.”

Farrell praised England’s display as he highlighted the amount of pressure Jones’ men had put on at the lineout, a disastrous area for Ireland.

“Set-piece pressure, certainly from a defensive point of view they obviously did a job on us there,” said Farrell.

“As far as the exiting and kicking game, on contestable kicks they hit man and ball and right through that first breakdown. That makes that first one slow and therefore, you send your forwards into a brick wall on the next one.

“What do you do? Do you keep playing 20 metres backwards or do you kick the ball? They controlled the defensive side of their game very well, disrupted our ball and made us play off slow ball. Obviously, they came out with the result on the back of that.”

This was the latest disappointing showing from Ireland’s lineout and maul, which has struggled at key times in big games and cost them dearly in Twickenham.

However, Farrell claimed he is not concerned about that part of Ireland’s game.

“No, I’m not. As I said during the week and over the last couple of weeks, it’s a completely new lineout. Devin Toner has dominated our lineout and done an unbelievable job over the years with Rory Best.

“Iain Henderson has been the next cab on the rank there in terms of dominating our lineout and being a leader but he’s not been available to us.

“So it’s invaluable stuff for James Ryan. James and Iain have been working closely together and we will get there. We will fix because that’s the type of people that we are. 

“Ronan [Kelleher] starts here for the first time, he has played once game coming back from injury, that’s priceless learning for him and he’ll be better for the experience. I thought Rob [Herring] did pretty well when he come on.

“It’s a new lineout team and we will learn from this experience to get better.”

Farrell finished by stressing that Ireland can fix their issues and be in contention for the 2021 Six Nations, in which they are due to welcome England and France to Dublin.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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