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Farrell's Ireland 'want to be a team that the Irish public love watching'

The new head coach is keen for his pack to be aggressive and dominant.

DEVELOPING IRELAND’S ATTACK is a key longer-term objective for head coach Andy Farrell but, first and foremost, he wants his team to go back to the future.

The Farrell era gets underway on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin as Scotland visit, with the new boss having made five personnel changes to his starting XV from the side that finished last year’s World Cup in such miserable fashion.

21-year-old Caelan Doris will make his debut at number eight – with 21-year-old hooker Ronan Kelleher set for his first cap off the bench – while Rob Herring, Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, and Bundee Aki are also named in the starting side.

andy-farrell Farrell at Ireland's final training session in Portugal today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Farrell is keen for the fresher faces to impose themselves and bring something different for Ireland, but he is also pushing his players to hark back to former Irish glories this weekend when they kick-off against Scotland.

“I want to see the good old traditions of what all champion Irish teams have always been about,” said Farrell when asked what he hopes to see in Dublin.

“We want to be a team that the Irish public love watching. The traditional parts of those champion teams have always been a dominant forward pack, an aggressive forward pack, unbelievably hard to handle. I’ve been on the other side of that myself.

“Also, a backline that facilities that for a forward pack and also takes advantage of what the forwards are doing for them. That’s going back throughout history.

“Those are the essential parts of the game. The little bits we’re trying to build, they will take time, we’ll see how they progress over the next while but hopefully before not too long we’re talking about our own history as well.”

Farrell’s players are ready to embrace their head coach’s desire for those traditional battling Irish qualities to come to the fore.

Second row James Ryan believes the Irish forwards can bring a more consistent ferocity.

“This is a team that has had a lot of success over the last few years and for us now, it’s making that pack we have more consistent,” said Ryan.

“When we’ve been at our best as a team and as a pack, we’ve had that relentless edge about us. It’s driving that consistency every week.”

andy-farrell Farrell named his matchday 23 for the Scotland game today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Farrell is pleased with how Ireland’s week-long camp in Portugal has prepared them for the challenge against Scotland, citing strong training-ground performances when discussing some of his closest selection calls.

While he is determined to see a dominant performance from his pack, Farrell will also be keen for new attack coach Mike Catt’s influence to slowly become more apparent as this Six Nations wears on. The players’ feedback from training sessions indicates they’re already working towards that.

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“I suppose we’re always trying to get that balance in our attack between the really smart plays we have and then how we play off a loose ball or a turnover ball, that unstructured rugby,” said Ryan.

“Ultimately, the principles of the game stay the same and this weekend for us, it’s about our accuracy and our intensity and defence as well. If we get those things right, we’ll be in a good spot.”

Ireland’s coaching team has another new face in the shape of scrum specialist John Fogarty, who was previously with Leinster and therefore knows many of the national team players very well.

He takes over from Greg Feek – who is now with the All Blacks – and has some fresh ideas too.

“Fogs would have come through the academy system when Feeky was in Leinster and a lot of players like myself would have come through that train of thought, so there definitely are similarities,” said tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong.

“But then Fogs probably has different views on it in his own mind. There’s no drastic major overhaul and change, which is nice from a consistency point of view as a front row, but there are those little nuances that are different for us. The scrum is ever-changing anyway so you always have to develop all the time.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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