Wednesday 21 August 2019

'I feel very comfortable, I feel at home here' - Chris Farrell on why versatility is key for World Cup hopes

Chris Farrell poses for a portrait following an Ireland Rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Chris Farrell poses for a portrait following an Ireland Rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There is nothing like ruthlessly cutting two players from the Ireland squad to focus the minds about how quickly the World Cup dream can be crushed.

That is the reality facing Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell this week as they come to terms with the fact that, despite putting in what has by all accounts been a gruelling pre-season, they will not be travelling to Japan – barring a spate of injuries.

For Chris Farrell, it may be one less player to compete with in what is an ultra-competitive midfield, but such will be the importance placed on versatility, the Munster centre is well aware that some of his other team-mates have the ability to play in several positions.

Since his return to Ireland from France in 2017, Joe Schmidt has regularly spoken highly of what Farrell brings with his mixture of power and guile, but even still, the 26-year old is eager to prove that he has even more strings to his bow.

"It's been really tough for those lads because they've put six weeks of as hard of training down as us and they've tried to put their best foot forward as much as they could," Farrell said of Dillane and Scannell.

"If you're lucky enough to get that opportunity this weekend, you've got the first one and you can make a statement to Joe and the coaches.

"There are lots of other lads that can cover centre, can play lots of positions. Joe is looking for versatility I think when it comes to squad members and players who can play across the backline.

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"You look at Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour and boys like this who have done it for them in the past there.

"Rory, obviously, he's an out and out 12 and plays a bit of 10 as well.

"For me, it's just showing the coaches that I can be versatile as well – whether that be playing 12, 13, putting myself on the wing when I need to. That will give me the best chance I can get."

Farrell is set to get a chance to lay down an early marker against Italy on Saturday as preparations for the World Cup take another step up.

Within such a competitive environment, getting a chance to do so in the first warm-up game is a chance that Farrell is not willing to pass up as he looks to add to his five caps.

"I feel comfortable enough," he maintained.

"I had that one big injury that kept me out for nine months and maybe that has effected how many caps I've been able to amount.

"I feel very comfortable, I feel at home here in Carton House and in training.

"It's just a matter of time. Hopefully I can put my hand up and heap more pressure on the other lads who are playing in the centre as well and prove myself to the coaching staff.

"A lot of boys will be going out there to try and prove themselves. It's the first opportunity for a lot of us to put their hand up and show the coaches how much preparation they have put in and how physically and tactically ready they are to play.

"For that, boys will be wanting to impress."

The disappointment of the Six Nations has been addressed within the squad and now they are ready to turn to the page, according to Farrell.

"There wasn't a sense that we need to change an awful lot. I wouldn't say players are heaping pressure on each other because of how the Six Nations went, but we certainly have higher expectations than what we showed.

"We've all had lots of time to look back and reflect on the Six Nations, both how we played individually and collectively as a team. I'd like to think that all the work that has gone into that will help us in the future.

"Everyone is excited about it. We've been excited about it for ages, it's World Cup year. Even throughout last season you were putting your hand up for your club and trying to impress the international coaches knowing what's ahead.

"I'll just be hoping I can put as much as what I can do into the game and show the coaches I'm ready and if I do end up going to Japan, that I would be well ready to put my hand up, wear the green jersey and represent our country the best I can."

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