'It certainly gets you thinking about next steps': Farrell hopes to face 'Boks ahead of 2023 showdown

Farrell has brought about a transition in Ireland’s international side and the sight of the ‘Boks at the end of the cycle makes his task all the tougher.

Farrell with assistant Mike Catt last month.
Farrell with assistant Mike Catt last month.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WITH THE BEST part of three years to run before the next Rugby World Cup, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell had a hard job previewing the tournament after today’s pool draw.

Primarily, he noted how often Ireland might play confirmed and potential opponents between now and then.

Scotland, quite a bit. Possible quarter-final opponents New Zealand will be taken on during a three-Test tour on their own patch and possibly again in a November Test.

Farrell also hopes that World Champions South Africa will come to Dublin during an autumn window before the sides clash in a pool fixture in 2023. However, it remains unconfirmed and the first-year head coach also signaled that the Lions tour will be an opportunity for Irish players to meet the Springboks.

“You always want to judge yourself against the best and at this moment in time South Africa are number one in the world and rightly so,” Farrell said in the IRFU’s training base after this morning’s draw.

The new head coach has overseen a year of transition in Ireland’s senior side, with a notable shift in style brought in alongside a wealth of new caps over the course of the last 12 months.

That transition has yielded some impressive moments and players routinely note a feelgood factor in the camp, but defeats to England and France tended to overshadow the good. Today’s pool draw brought Farrell to consider the full World Cup cycle.

“It’s certainly something that gets you thinking about next steps and the journey ahead,” he said.

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But when asked to consider a quarter-final which could pit Ireland against tournament hosts France – who helped oust Eddie O’Sullivan’s side from the pool stage in a Paris clash in 2007 – Farrell couldn’t help but touch on last year’s pool stage woes.

“Having an opportunity to play against the hosts is great, like we found in Japan.”

Going one better than Ireland have managed before will be a very tall order.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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