Ireland won't call on Andy Farrell ahead of Six Nations crunch with England
Published 23/02/2016 | 02:30
The Irish management insist that they will not draw on the vast inside knowledge of incoming defence coach Andy Farrell ahead of the Six Nations clash against his former side England on Saturday.
The rugby league legend is currently working with Munster as a consultant before he takes over the vacant role within the IRFU in April. He was England's defence coach from 2011 up until last year's World Cup but was not retained when Stuart Lancaster was replaced by Eddie Jones after the hosts' disastrous campaign.
Joe Schmidt moved to hire him as a replacement for defence coach Les Kiss when the Australian moved to Ulster, but under the terms of his departure from the RFU he was not allowed to work for one of England's rivals during this year's Six Nations.
That means Ireland will not have access to a wealth of inside information about their opponents ahead of this Saturday's clash. Although Jones has made changes to England's systems since taking over, many of the personnel have remained in place and Farrell's son, Owen, is expected to be named at inside centre for the tournament leaders this weekend.
Despite that, team manager Mick Kearney says the coaching team will not contact their new man ahead of the crunch clash.
"I don't think so," he said. "Andy's contract and severance package from the RFU stated that he could not be involved with any other Six Nations team for the duration of the tournament.
"So we will abide by that particular condition of his contract. We look forward to seeing him on the first of April."
Meanwhile, Jones has attempted once again to get under Schmidt's skin ahead of the Twickenham clash by repeating his assertion that Ireland kick 70pc of their possession away.
The Ireland coach has dismissed the figures quoted by opposite number last week when the former Japan supremo said he was expecting a game of "Aussie Rules" on Saturday. But despite the fact that his maths appear off, he has again criticised the champions' style.
"They kick 70pc of their ball away," he said yesterday. "If they want to do that, good luck to them. It has worked for them. It is not the way I think you should play rugby, but it has been successful."
Ireland hope that Jared Payne will come through today's training session unscathed and will be available for selection. He is recovering from a hamstring strain, but is expected to be involved at Carton House this morning.
Johnny Sexton was due to train yesterday evening after rolling his ankle on Friday and the IRFU say he has suffered no ill-effects from the neck injury that forced him off early in both games to date.
Simon Zebo (knee) and Keith Earls (concussion) are back in contention after missing the France game in Paris, while Mike Ross and Cian Healy are due to return to the match-day 23 having been recalled to the squad yesterday. James Cronin has been dropped after being an unused replacement against Wales and coming on for the final seven minutes at the Stade de France, while tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong has a thigh injury and was not in the squad announced yesterday. Hooker Rob Herring has also been released due to a thigh problem.
Schmidt has called up Ulster's Craig Gilroy, Munster's Dave Ryan and Leinster's Jordi Murphy for the Twickenham clash.
If Payne's hamstring does not clear up, Schmidt has a big call to make in the centre with a host of options to choose from. While the popular choice would be to select Stuart McCloskey at inside centre and move Robbie Henshaw out one to No 13, the head coach could revert to his World Cup pairing of Henshaw and Earls.
Luke Marshall may be ahead of his Ulster colleague in the pecking order after being the 24th man in both games to date, but Schmidt will do everything he can to have his first-choice outside centre available.