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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Farrell 'shook' by tough debut Test, but hungry for plenty more

The Clogher Valley kid gave his club a very special occasion to celebrate this weekend.

THERE WAS PRE-MATCH emotion and nerves aplenty, but Chris Farrell can pin-point the moment he truly felt the onrushing pressure of international rugby.

“I think it was getting lined up by (Levani) Botia at a line-out,” the debutant centre says with a wry smile as he pictured the La Rochelle flanker who pulled on the 12 jersey for his country.

“The physicality shook me a few times.”

Chris Farrell tackled by Ben Volavola and Levani Botia Botia and Volavoa get to grips with Farrell. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 24-year-old sent shockwaves of his own too, mind. He racked up 12 carries on his first outing in green, each of them hard going as he presented for the thankless hit-ups that normally are taken up by Robbie Henshaw when he is in the 12 jersey.

The outside centre is more than happy to do that dirty work and thankful for the chance to enter the Test arena having taken a long road to get here via a three-year stint in Grenoble.

“It was a detour to get here, I had to go to France and back. It was always in my goals to come back and get a chance to play at this level and thankfully that was the case.

“I have that now and hopefully can build on it as one cap is nothing so hopefully I can put in a few more performances.”

“I was very young at the time and it was purely to get game time and gain experience and build and grow as a player then I’d come back home and step up to this level.”

Though Farrell isn’t content with this single cap, it will be a point of immense pride to the young Clogher Valley RFC, who can now count themselves as a producer of international talent for the first time in their 27-year history.

And while Farrell has been away from his Ulster home for three years, Fivemiletown hasn’t lost touch.

Chris Farrell with his family after the game Farrell and the family who came along for his debut. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“The town has not stopped all week. I think my Facebook and social media has not stopped from people, a good few travelled down as well and it was good to be able to speak to them after the game.”

While Farrell acquitted himself well on his bow, there will be some serious scrutiny to be placed on the collective performance by the time Monday’s review comes around. Without the replay, the powerful Munster centre can already pinpoint aspects of the breakdown which will find a place on most players’ work-ons over Christmas.

“It is all about our breakdown our body fight on the ground,” he says, beginning to tot up the pros and cons of the 23 – 20 win over Fiji.

Chris Farrell is introduced to President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins by Rhys Ruddock Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Players with the ball, without the ball, going into contact we were not up to our usual standards. I do not think normally Ireland would never lose 11 balls or have 11 turnovers in a full game, so to have that in the first half is really probably upsetting in a way.

“In the second half it did not really change, we did not fix that, we came out and lost more balls I do not know what the total was. That will be the main focus come Monday.”

He added: “We showed when we kept the ball we were able to break them down, but we just did not keep the ball for long enough.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Fiji take heart from pushing Ireland all the way but rue a missed opportunity

‘We took some chances tonight’: Schmidt relieved to see experimental side find a way to win

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Sean Farrell

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