Andy Farrell doesn’t know yet if he’ll be with Lions or Ireland this summer
Irish head coach delighted to have Peter O’Mahony and Sexton agree new deals
Andy Farrell is unable to shed any light on whether he’ll be involved with the British & Irish Lions for a third successive ‘tour’ or will be coaching Ireland this summer, simply because both possibilities are still in a state of flux and uncertainty.
There were plans for Ireland to play two tests in the Pacific Islands this summer, and Japan have since been explored as potential opponents in addition to Fiji and Tonga for three tests in one location, such as New Zealand or Australia.
In the heel of the hunt, if Ireland undertake a senior tour of some kind this summer, and it clashes with the Lions, that would most probably be prioritised by Farrell.
Farrell was defence coach on the expeditions to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand four years ago under Warren Gatland, so it would make sense for the latter to want Ireland’s head coach again should this year’s test series with the Springboks be confirmed, be it in South Africa, Australia or, most plausibly, relocated to Ireland and the UK.
Gatland has assuredly sounded out Farrell, who said he had no update on the speculation.
“I’m as updated as you are on all the ramifications that are being bounced about from day to day so no, there’s nothing that I know that’s going on at this moment in time that gives any clarity on the situation whatsoever.
“We don’t know whether there’s a Lions tour going on. We don’t know at this moment in time whether there’s a summer tour going on with Ireland. I hear that hopefully by the end of the month we’ll know something more concrete.”
Asked if he’d like to be involved in another Lions tour, Farrell said: “Well again, like I’ve always said and it’s the truth, I’ll always do the right thing for Irish rugby.
“At this moment in time we don’t know, like I’ve said, whether one tour is going ahead or whether both tours are going ahead, we have no clarity or no certainty about anything so I suppose we’ll have to wait until the end of the month.”
As to the possibility of Farrell choosing to work with the Lions again or somehow combing both, he said: “Again, we don’t know what that tour looks like yet. I don’t know what’s happening as far as the Lions are concerned regarding warm-up matches, the fall-out from those warm-up matches that are going to have ramifications on what happens with the rest of world rugby and whose available for tours etc, so we don’t know what that looks like.”
The more definitive news regarding new one-year and two-year deals for Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony, Farrell was clearly delighted.
“It’s fantastic news, yeah, two very important pieces of our jigsaw going forward for all sorts of reasons, and they’re delighted to get their contracts over the line and settle their futures and we even more so delighted for them.”
Farrell said he expects to have a fully fit squad to train with and choose from next week in the build-up to the Scotland game in Murrayfield next Sunday week and England at the Aviva Stadium six days later.
“Yeah, they are two massive games for us. They are the old enemies, aren’t they? The rivalries are as ripe as ever, with Scotland and with England. All three teams want to finish the Six Nations on a high and that is why we love it so much, isn’t it, because the goalposts keep changing in the tournament from week to week and there is an emotional aspect that comes with that.
“We know we have come unstuck in Murrayfield in the recent past and we know how well they are playing and how well we will need to play to come away with the victory.”