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'Ireland v England, it doesn't come any bigger than that. I'd love a crack at it'

Chris Farrell hopes to retain his place but Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw are also in contention.

Farrell offered Ireland real punch over the gainline against Wales.
Farrell offered Ireland real punch over the gainline against Wales.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

CHRIS FARRELL WAS among the seven changes to Ireland’s starting XV for Friday night’s Autumn Nations Cup win over Wales and he was also among the men that head coach Andy Farrell would have challenged to prove a point.

The Munster man had already won 10 Ireland caps but he was among a crop of players forced to bide their time for an opportunity to roll around, having last had an Ireland start in the 2019 World Cup game against Japan. 

So this one felt like a long time coming and Farrell certainly looked very motivated as he brought real punch on the ball in making 36 metres off his 10 carries, several of them into dense traffic.

“I think having the Six Nations broken up by the lockdown, not to have a crack in February was frustrating for me,” said Farrell after Ireland’s 32-9 win.

“It feels like a long, long time since that Japan game, I felt that I was going well at that stage, having played against Scotland and Japan, and then got a head bang that kept me out the week after, so that kind of stunted my ability to put my stamp on the position.

“It’s really a relief to get this game and hopefully there’s a bit more to come.

“I think I’ve been playing well throughout the season for Munster and hopefully that form will stand to me in these international games if there are more chances to come.”

A home Test against Wales is a big game, of that there is no doubt, but the next one is even bigger.

Ireland boss Farrell knows he has a squad full of men desperate for a chance to play in Twickenham this Saturday as Ireland look to make their mark after two dispiriting defeats on their last two visits.

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chris-farrell Farrell won his 11th cap on Friday night. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Ireland v England, it doesn’t come any bigger than that,” said Munster midfielder Farrell. “It might not be a World Cup or a Six Nations, but there’s silverware on the line here and to get a chance in a competitive situation against a team of the quality of England would be unbelievable to me.

“I’d love a crack at it, there’d be no bones about it. It would be an awesome experience.”

Farrell’s power in the carry and his ability to offload and pass are certainly attractive for Ireland when it comes to picking the team to face the English, although Bundee Aki could return with Robbie Henshaw shifting to the 13 shirt again.

Whatever the combination, Ireland are happy to be coming off a physically dominance performance against Wales as they get set for a mammoth challenge in that area on Saturday.

“At times it felt like we were really, really comfortable,” said Farrell of the win over Wales.

“We didn’t have too many defensive sets in the first half but whenever you play a Welsh team you expect them to stretch you defensively and even when they did try to do that in the second half, I think ultimately we felt comfortable.

“You’re stretched but not as much as you’d expect against a team of that quality and we dealt with what they threatened to do and their strengths very well.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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