Friday 22 March 2019

Andy Farrell says he is honoured to take over from Joe Schmidt and ready for the biggest challenge of his career

Defence coach Andy Farrell during an Ireland rugby open training session at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Defence coach Andy Farrell during an Ireland rugby open training session at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Incoming Ireland coach Andy Farrell says he is ready for the biggest challenge of his career when he takes over from Joe Schmidt after this year's World Cup.

The former England dual international insists he is fully focused on the job at hand as the team's defence coach but, speaking to the media for the first time since his appointment was announced in November, he said it was an honour to be considered for the role.

"100%, yeah. It's something I've been working towards, something I'm up for and excited about at the same time," he said when asked if this was the biggest challenge of his career after helping to oversee an open training session at the Aviva Stadium today.

"(I had) absolutely no doubts. No doubts whatsoever. A very easy decision.

"(I found out) not too long before that (announcement was made).

"A great moment obviously, as I said 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 a 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."

Asked about the potential for adding his old boss Stuart Lancaster to his coaching ticket, Farrell said the planning for the future back-room staff was ongoing but was not about to go naming names.

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And he said it wasn't guaranteed that he would continue to have responsibility for the defence when he assumed full control of the team.

"Obviously, there's planning that has to go on behind the scenes. Honestly, I'm unbelievably conscious of making sure nothing gets in the way of the day job," he said.

"Things are puttering 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's different permutations when a coaching team come together, when a management team come together.

"It's all about gels and fits. As things become clearer over the next couple of months, we'll get to that."

Farrell said he had learnt a huge amount from his time working with Schmidt.

"You're learning all the time, aren't you? No matter who you're working with," he said.

"The experiences that you go through together whether it be the losses, a poor performance or whether it be the wins - you're learning constantly.

"What you get when you're in our environment, is you get 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."

Seán O'Brien is unlikely to play any part in the new regime, but Farrell wished him well in his move to London Irish.

"You know what? When you lose a player like Seanie, no matter in what situation whether it be through injury or if he decides to move on to pastures new, it's always going to be a wrench for everyone really," he said.

"I'm chuffed for him. He's happy with the move and we've had a good chat about it. I'm chuffed for him about the next part of his career and where he's going to go with that as well."

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