Andy Farrell. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
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'I feel sorry for Farrell a little bit in terms of what he’s picking from compared to Rassie'

Bernard Jackman set out his concerns about Ireland’s squad depth on today’s Rugby Weekly Extra podcast.

IRELAND’S SQUAD DEPTH is a concern ahead of the upcoming series in South Africa, Bernard Jackman told The42’s Murray Kinsella on Monday’s subscriber exclusive Rugby Weekly Extra podcast.

“For the next World Cup, we need to try and make sure that Andy Farrell has more depth,” Jackman said.

“There weren’t 45 players that Farrell was trying to work out how to fit into the squad. It pretty much picked itself which in some ways is good. But one year after a World Cup, it’s not ideal that there hasn’t been more people putting their hand up.

“I actually feel sorry for Farrell a little bit in terms of what he’s picking from in comparison to what Rassie can pick from.”

Ireland’s 35-man squad to face the world champions features three uncapped players; Leinster’s Jamie Osborne and Sam Prendergast, and Ulster’s Cormac Izuchukwu. 

While some fans might argue that this two-Test series could have offered Farrell an opportunity to blood new talent, Jackman believes that the strength in depth just isn’t there to radically break away from the reliables and experiment with fresh faces.

“A big part of the defeat [vs New Zealand in the World Cup] was that we didn’t have a huge bench to bring on.

“I’m not sure that we have the impact off the bench in enough positions to be a team who get back to No 1 in the world. We might get back to No 1 but we’re going to be relying on the same faces.

“Some people think Farrell is biased towards Leinster players. I actually don’t think he is. I think there’s been some really good performers from Munster, Tom Ahern in particular, but he’s injured. 

“But realistically, there hasn’t been enough happening in the other provinces. We’ve had a lot of good U20 sides over the last couple of years, like France, but we’ve struggled to bring enough of them through.”

So how can these talents develop themselves into future Test players? For Jackman, players on the fringes of their provincial sides should consider moves abroad where they might get access to more minutes and in turn impress Farrell and his coaching staff:

“There’s a logjam in Ireland. If you come out of U20s and show that you’re a good provincial player, you end up kind of staying in the system. In general, they stay in the system all the way through their entire career even though it’s obvious that they’re maybe not going to help Ireland win a World Cup or a Grand Slam in an impactful way.

“I would be in favour of the provinces having a bit more cash to spend on quality foreign players who can help them. I would get rid of the rule that you can’t get picked for Ireland if you don’t play in Ireland. 

“My problem is there’s a certain number of players who stay hoping to get capped by staying in the system. If you go abroad and hit form you should be eligible for selection, unless you’re already an international player,” Jackman said.

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