Andy Farrell: being offered the Ireland job ‘a massive honour’

The heir to Joe Schmidt’s throne has his immediate attention turned towards Italy

Andy Farrell is set to take over from Joe Schmidt following the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Andy Farrell is set to take over from Joe Schmidt following the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

When Joe Schmidt steps down as Ireland coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year, Andy Farrell will take over.

But to Farrell it’s a dot on the horizon when weighed against more immediate concerns, starting with the must-win Six Nations clash against Italy Rome on Sunday week.

He explained: “When you’re in it, it is full steam ahead with the job in hand and the day job. No, the Six Nations are always just the same, it’s a bloody good competition, very intense, emotional roller-coasters everywhere. It’s exactly the same as what it has been over the last six years for me.”

He was asked about when he found out that he would be taking over. He replied: “Not too long before that [when the announcement was made]. A great moment obviously; as I say in the statement, I’m proud and privileged to be asked to take over after such a brilliant coach like Joe.

“Fortunately enough as well, I get a bit of time to keep on learning in the meantime. It’s a massive honour to be given the opportunity. Why? Because it’s a privilege to be involved with the group, the people that we’ve got, the players, the staff. The players are great people to work with. I feel where we’re going in the future is a bright place as well.

“You’re learning all the time. The experiences that you go through together, whether it is the losses, a poor performance or whether it is the wins; you’re learning constantly.

“What you get when you’re in our environment is to share those ideas and we tend to give quite a lot of feedback to each other. You’re learning constantly all the time and it obviously shapes the way that you think and learn on the run.”

Farrell admitted that he had no doubts when offered the Ireland head coaching position describing it as a “very easy decision.”

With Schmidt leaving and scrum coach Greg Feek also stepping down to go to Japan after the World Cup, Farrell will look at tweaking the coaching team and given his increased responsibility at the top of the coaching pyramid that could encompass bringing in a new defence coach.

He said: “Obviously, there’s planning that has to go on behind the scenes. Honest, I’m unbelievably conscious of making sure nothing gets in the way of the day job. Things are petering away, but there’s not too much wrong the Irish setup at this moment in time. There might be a little bit of drop-out along the way, but continuity is a good thing for us. Because what we do is working.

“There are different permutations when a coaching team come together, when a management team come together. As things become clearer over the next couple of months, we’ll get to that.”

He agreed that it represented the biggest challenge of his career. “It’s something I’ve been working towards, something I’m up for and excited about at the same time.”

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