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'I’m a coach who likes to trust his gut and that won’t change' - Andy Farrell

The new head coach insists he will remain hands-on for Ireland’s training sessions.

THE SUIT ANDY Farrell wore at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday in London was sharp and fitted the new Ireland head coach well but the 44-year-old isn’t planning on getting too used to formal wear.

A legendary rugby league player turned rugby union coach via a stint playing the 15-man code, Farrell’s love for the game means he sees himself as a tracksuit coach.

He is now in his first permanent head coaching position after assistant roles with Saracens, England, the Lions, and Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, but the Englishman is going to remain in the thick of it on the training pitch.

andy-farrell Farrell is excited to get started next weekend against Scotland. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I’m a coach, it’s my passion putting a plan together and seeing how it works on a weekend. I’ll definitely be doing that; I’ve already made that out to the players, that I’ll be taking sessions,” says Farrell.

“Having hands-on most things is one of the key fundamentals of any coaching job really.

“I don’t plan to be in this suit too much. I might be at the weekend [for games], I’ve not made a decision on that yet! But I tend to be in a tracksuit most days and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

As such, Farrell has been busy on the training pitch at Ireland’s camp in Portugal in recent days.

The 36-man Six Nations squad flew out to Faro on Wednesday evening and have been working hard over the last few days as they build towards their championship opener against Gregor Townsend’s Scotland next Saturday.

The Ireland boss will name his first starting XV on Tuesday before the squad return to Dublin that day.

Farrell is taking a short-term view of the job in front of him right now. His contract as Ireland boss runs through until the end of the 2023 World Cup in France, but the Wigan man insists that he needs to look at the closest challenge.

“That’s the tough part isn’t it, in head coaching? Dealing with the here and now and having an eye on the medium term.

“The long term, you don’t get to that unless you deal with the here and now with a little bit of planning ahead for what’s happening in the summer, next season in terms of the November Tests.

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gregor-townsend-fabien-galthie-andy-farrell-eddie-jones-wayne-pivac-and-franco-smith Farrell with the other Six Nations head coaches. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“You’ve got to get the balance right. I would think you don’t get to that four-year cycle unless you deal with the here and now, first and foremost.”

Farrell is also keen to underline that this Six Nations is a fresh start for Ireland, even though he was heavily involved in last year’s World Cup failure, as were a large portion of the current 36-man squad.

“That’s not me shying away from any of the learnings because I was there and I understood what happened, the different scenarios that were upon us within the World Cup.

“The World Cup is completely different to what is ahead of us, completely different, for all sorts of reasons: a 31-man squad, going abroad, completely different conditions, etc.

“So do we need to keep going back and constantly having a look? We need to look forward and get excited because things are a little bit different with the new staff, the new players, the high-performance centre [in Abbottstown]. It’s the way that I want it to be.”

That last sentence is an important one because Farrell is keen to put his own stamp on this Ireland squad. He will, of course, continue with some of the things that made the team successful for most of Schmidt’s tenure, but he has his own ideas.

Having worked under the likes of Stuart Lancaster, Warren Gatland, Brendan Venter, and Schmidt, the new Ireland boss has learned plenty about other coaches’ strengths. Now’s it’s time for all of us to get a sense of Farrell’s philosophy.

joe-schmidt-with-andy-farrell Farrell has learned from coaches like Schmidt but now wants to put his own stamp on things. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“28 years I think I’ve been in professional sport and I’ve seen the highs and lows, all the coaches I’ve been through from a young age, it’s always something I wanted to do,” says Farrell.

“There are bits of unbelievably successful coaches I’ve played under that I’ve absolutely loved but, at the same time, can I put my own twist and ideas, my own philosophy, etc., into it and make sure I’m myself?

“Players know me, they know my character. I’m pretty much a coach who likes to trust his gut as well and that won’t change.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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