Farrell set to stick with experience; Ken Early on contrasts between Haaland and Mbappe

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Max Homa plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the final round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Max Homa plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the final round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

To rugby first this morning and Andy Farrell looks set to stick with the tried and trusted for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy with the need for a win trumping the chance to try out some unproven players. A win is definitely needed in Rome after what’s been a tough time for Irish rugby in this year’s Six Nations and this morning Brian O’Connor writes in his Tipping Point column that the current struggles are another example of how new and fresh is not always better than the old regime. “There’s nothing original in pointing out how newness is no virtue and oldness is no vice. Yet almost invariably the reaction in sport is to ditch the wily old bird in the hand for the promise of what might be in the bush.” On Saturday, Connacht put together an impressive four-try performance to see off Cardiff in the Pro14 but afterwards head coach Andy Friend said his team still have much to work on in getting to their best.

On to soccer and this morning Ken Early writes that Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are set to dominate football for years to come but they represent a fascinating contrast in playing styles. Whereas Mbappe encapsulates style, pace and flair, Haaland is more brute strength and directness. “Mbappe is better than Haaland at almost everything: touch, passing, dribbling, involvement in the game. At this moment Haaland has a tiny edge in that one crucial area of lashing the ball into the net,” he writes. Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Manchester United got back on track with a 3-1 win at home to Newcastle which moved them back into second place while Steve Bruce’s side now sit just three points above the relegation zone but the manager remains confident they will stay up. Earlier in the day Manchester City made it 18 wins in a row to go 10 points clear thanks to a Raheem Sterling goal at Arsenal while Tottenham’s poor form continued with a 2-1 loss to Champions League-chasing West Ham. However, afterwards José Mourinho insisted that his coaching methods are still the best in the world despite the defeat meaning that Mourinho has earned just 81 points from his first 50 games in charge of Tottenham, his lowest total at any stage of his managerial career.

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