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Farrell: 'What a position to be in. We've won our first game at home'

The Ireland head coach says Scotland aren’t getting the credit they deserve for last weekend’s display.

WHILE MANY SUPPORTERS felt that last weekend’s narrow win over Scotland was simply more of the same from Ireland, more worrying than encouraging, new head coach Andy Farrell believes that his team are in a great position.

With a win under their belts and another home clash to come on Saturday against Wales, Farrell is positive about how Ireland are progressing.

It took some Scottish failures – most notably Stuart Hogg dropping the ball over the tryline – to ensure Ireland won in the end, but Farrell is keen to stress that his team came through a very tough game with the right result.

“It’s actually great, believe it or not,” said Farrell when asked about Ireland’s confidence today, having just named his team to face Wales.

“It is actually great because what a position to be in. We’ve won our first game at home, some good and some fix-ups.

andy-farrell Farrell at Ireland training today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Scotland, I don’t think people are giving them the credit they deserve. I’ve not seen Scotland play like that for some time. They were ferocious in all sorts of contact within the game, I thought their set-piece was absolutely excellent.

“They’ll be deeply disappointed, I would have thought, because they threw everything at us in that game. So they have a lot to do with it and we’ve got to manage that type of situation better as well. We will do this weekend.”

Farrell’s selection for the clash with Wales has also left some fans underwhelmed, with many arguing that Ireland’s XV simply appears to be a continuation from the World Cup under Joe Schmidt.

Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, and Rob Herring are essentially new starting players in this championship – Caelan Doris was another last weekend, but he is now sidelined after a concussion just minutes into his debut.

Ronan Kelleher made his debut off the bench last weekend, while Max Deegan is poised to do the same against Wales, but there have been calls for more change.

John Cooney remains behind Conor Murray at scrum-half, with Farrell opting for only two injury-enforced changes to his team, Robbie Henshaw coming in for Garry Ringrose and Peter O’Mahony starting in the back row as Doris misses out.

“We don’t just do it in ten minutes, selection always has its ups and downs,” said Farrell in explaining that Ireland had agonised over some of their calls. “We have a good team with continuity. It is the right team to represent our group against Wales.”

andy-farrell Farrell feels there is lots more to come from Ireland. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Given that continuity, Farrell is backing his players to improve on last weekend’s performance, with several areas in mind.

“Defensively we were really good at times, but not consistently,” said the Ireland boss. “We felt we gave them yards at times. We lost a few collisions at the start of the match. We can be better there.

“Our set-piece? We had an honest and open forum there and the boys are looking forward to this week as far as set-piece is concerned.

“Our attack, we became a bit clunky at times and Scotland had a lot to say about that. They really messed up our ball and everyone wants to play off quick ball. At times in attack, I thought we created some really good opportunities. Did we see them all? Probably not all of them so there’s some good opportunities that went wasted there.

“There’s been a fair reflection and it’s been a good couple of days as far as reviewing and getting out on the field today.”

Farrell said today’s training was intense and ferocious as Ireland look to build for what promises to be an absorbing encounter against the Welsh, who have their own new head coach in Wayne Pivac.

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Wales hammered a very poor Italy team 42-0 last weekend in their Six Nations opener. Although that was a disappointing test of Wales’ quality, Farrell and Ireland know how big a challenge they will face on Saturday.

nick-tompkins-celebrates-his-try-with-teammates Wales hammered Italy last weekend. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland saw some new twists in the Welsh tactics last weekend, having noticed some change when they played the Barbarians last year in Pivac’s first game.

“We know that Wales are Grand Slam champions and semi-finalists at the World Cup,” said Farrell. “Rightly so, they’re being talked up as a great team.

“You see two of their forwards sprint off to the width straight away which says a lot of where they’re trying to go. It’s funny because you would think that you’d need to get your spacing right defensively to manage that width but, therefore, they start playing through you.

“We’ve got to make sure that we win the contact area first, it’s the same in any other game. I’m sure Wales are talking about the same scenarios.

“I thought their passing was really good as well. I thought Nick Tompkins came on for his first game and he was whizzing the ball everywhere. Hopefully, they don’t get that time and space against us at the weekend.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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