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Farrell 'not concerned at all' about Ireland scrum as sights set on Scotland

The Ireland boss believes his side have “a world-class scrum.”

Conor Murray celebrates Ireland's fourth try.
Conor Murray celebrates Ireland's fourth try.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ANDY FARRELL HAS been with Ireland for some tough days at Twickenham, so he was never going to be anything but happy with a bonus-point win over Eddie Jones’ England on Saturday evening.

It means Farrell’s team can secure a Triple Crown by beating Scotland this Saturday in Dublin before watching on to see if the English can upset France in Paris and hand Ireland the Six Nations crown in doing so.

Not that the Ireland boss will sugarcoat things after their 32-15 win in London. Their review today will pick over the good and bad of a four-try win against 14-man England.

“Being harsh on yourself, being honest, is what we always do,” said Farrell on Saturday night.

“This review will be the same, the group want to know how to get better so we’ll make sure to get them some answers.”

The scrum has featured heavily in most reviews of Ireland’s 32-15 victory, so it’s sure to be part of Ireland’s analysis too. Farrell certainly didn’t seem too perturbed by the six penalties and one free-kick that his team conceded at scrum time.

A closer study of the penalties in the cold light of day suggests that at least a couple of them could have been resets and perhaps even Irish penalties. But there’s no doubting that there were concerning pictures in there too.

Speaking on Saturday night, Farrell said he was not worried.

“I’m not concerned about it at all,” said the Ireland boss when asked about the scrum.

“We all know we’ve got a world-class scrum, we know the personnel we’ve got.

“It’s going to be great learning, isn’t it? For the likes of Dan [Sheehan] and the rest of the pack, they were searching for some answers, asking the questions and I’m not sure if they got the answers or not.

a-view-of-a-scrum Ireland had a frustrating time at the scrum. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“We’ll look at ourselves first and liaise with the right channels and make sure we get to the bottom of it.

“I think we all know that we’ve got a good scrum. England found a way and congratulations to them.”

Of course, Farrell would say that. Scotland’s forwards are next up to try and see if they can do some scrum damage, with Wayne Barnes set to referee Saturday’s game.

As for last weekend, Farrell was delighted that his players didn’t get completely bogged down in the scrum penalty concessions. That area did give England massive momentum but Ireland found a way to finish over the top of them.

“Let me take you back to a few years ago in a [2019 World Cup] warm-up game here, our set-piece capitulated and we lost by 50-odd points,” said Farrell.

“That was never going to happen and we all know that. We were able to get back on track, it’s something we keep on talking about. We managed to get there.”

Ireland benefited from a strong bench display, with Farrell praising Conor Murray’s control of the closing 13 minutes and Jack Conan’s “outstanding” 19-minute shift, as well as highlighting Finlay Bealham for doing “unbelievably well” in his short cameo.

“We would have liked to have got Joey on a little bit earlier but it is what it is, that’s Test match rugby,” said Farrell of Carbery, who got just one minute.

Among the starting team, Farrell was delighted to see Dan Sheehan getting an important learning experience, while he felt Josh van der Flier led from the front, and his back three of Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, and Andrew Conway delivered lots of important moments.

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tadhg-beirne-celebrates-after-the-game Tadhg Beirne was excellent for Ireland again. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Ireland boss was also pleased with the leadership from captain Johnny Sexton and his fellow senior players.

“He’s getting better as a captain every day, every game,” said Farrell.

“He’s making sure that we get across on the field out there everything we’ve been practising during the week.

“We were tested at times. In games gone past under that type of pressure, we’ve folded a little bit and the leadership group, I know the lads bought into the job at hand and stayed on task. I knew that it wasn’t beneath them to come away with a victory like that even though they were under the cosh.”

And so, Ireland roll on with lessons to learn but lots to play for this weekend.

A bit of silverware would be the latest marker of their progress under Farrell. 

“We’re onto the next task and that’s making sure that we prepare unbelievably well for what is a massive occasion for us at Aviva Stadium playing for a trophy.

“Playing for the Triple Crown is huge for us and performing and putting pressure on France is what we’re about but at the same time, we know that Scotland will want to finish the competition off really well.

“We’ll expect them to be at their best. We know that they’re a hell of a side as well so we’ve got to make sure that we recover properly, be honest with ourselves, take the learnings, and make sure we’re ready for a final next week.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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