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Easterby set for defence role as Farrell shuffles Ireland coaching deck

The new head coach is expected to assume a bigger-picture role after succeeding Joe Schmidt.

IRELAND’S COACHING STAFF are set for a reshuffle in their training-ground duties under new head coach Andy Farrell, with assistant coach Simon Easterby in line to assume responsibility for the national team’s defence.

Easterby has been Ireland’s forwards coach since 2014 but is now set to shift roles and become defence coach under Farrell.

simon-easterby-and-andy-farrell Easterby is set to move from forwards coach to defence coach. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Farrell himself joined Ireland as defence coach in 2016 but has now stepped up to the top job to succeed Joe Schmidt in the wake of the World Cup.

Easterby began his post-playing career as defence coach at Scarlets before being promoted to head coach of the Welsh region, whereafter he linked up with Schmidt’s Ireland. The 44-year-old has also assisted Farrell with defensive duties at times in recent seasons.

The42 understands that Farrell will no longer be the hands-on defence coach, instead focusing on a bigger-picture role of planning, strategising, and selecting the Ireland team as head coach.

It is believed Farrell is keen for his assistant coaches to enjoy greater on-field coaching responsibility in his tenure.

Farrell’s reputation within rugby union has been founded on his defensive expertise, as he has held defence coach roles with Saracens, England, the Lions, and Ireland. The Englishman is now is in his first permanent head coaching role and is thought to be keen to focus his attention more broadly across entire remit of Ireland’s play.

His former England colleague Mike Catt has come onboard as Ireland’s new attack coach, but Farrell will naturally also have a major say in how his team operate in attack.

Former Leinster scrum specialist John Fogarty has joined the Ireland staff to succeed Greg Feek as the national team scrum coach but it’s understood his remit could now also include Ireland’s lineout play, covering Easterby’s previous duties in that area of the game.

Meanwhile, Richie Murphy has continued in his role as an assistant coach for Ireland and is also expected to have more scope to actively coach on the training pitch beyond specific skills and kicking drills.

The42 understands that Farrell will not recruit another coach to join his staff. 

Farrell and his assistants will gather their Ireland squad for the first time for a training camp in late December as they look towards the 2020 Six Nations, which begins with a home clash against Scotland on Saturday 1 February.

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Murray Kinsella

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