Thursday 18 July 2019

'It just didn't work' - Ex-Ireland defence coach says Peter Stringer's Owen Farrell comments backfired

2 February 2019; Owen Farrell of England during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
2 February 2019; Owen Farrell of England during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Nick Purewal

Owen Farrell displayed his true "controlled" temperament in England's stunning 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin, according to Mike Ford.

Former Ireland international Peter Stringer branded Farrell a "hothead" before England's four-try Guinness Six Nations victory on Saturday, but Ford believes those comments backfired.

Ex-Ireland defence coach Ford insists Farrell has a lid on his emotions, despite his burning desire for success.

"Owen Farrell is perceived wrongly; he's ultra competitive, and that's what it is," Ford told Press Association Sport.

"He wants to win, and at times, people view that differently. But on Saturday, he was controlled all the way through.

"It's a long time since Peter (Stringer) has played with Faz.

"You can have a week away, you can be away from a camp for a week and you can honestly not know for sure what's going on.

"So many decisions are made every day in a camp that people don't know about.

"I think it was designed to get under England's skin a little bit, but it just didn't work."

Former Munster scrum-half Stringer forged a half-back pairing with Farrell during a loan stint with Saracens in 2011.

Stringer had insisted Ireland would try to wind up Farrell in Dublin, claiming the 27-year-old was susceptible to that tactic.

Farrell never came close to losing his authority however, as England dominated Ireland thanks to powerhouse performances from Manu Tuilagi and Mako and Billy Vunipola.

Henry Slade bagged two tries, with Jonny May and Elliot Daly also crossing, leaving Ford purring over the form of Eddie Jones' side.

Ireland's status took a hit as their 2018 Grand Slam defence floundered from the off, though Ford insisted Saturday's result will have little bearing on the autumn's World Cup in Japan.

"England looked fantastic, from the first to the last second," said Ford.

"Ireland came back into it like the good side they are, but England never let their foot off the throat.

"I don't think winning or losing that game has an indication on the World Cup, I really don't.

"When it comes to World Cup quarter-finals or semi-finals, it's always the last 10 minutes that decide whether you will win or not.

"I think it's clear England can play a couple of ways, and they will need to, to win the World Cup.

"The balance, to kick, run, go over the top of people, beat them with skill or pace; England showed everything at the weekend."

Ford so nearly steered Germany to their first-ever World Cup finals, only for Canada to pip the Europeans to qualification for Japan 2019.

The former Bath coach and his players were on hand as the Webb Ellis Cup arrived in Germany as part of this year's World Cup Trophy Tour.

Ford hailed World Rugby's initiative to send the trophy across the globe in building the sport's footprint, while also pinpointing further progress with Germany, who start their Rugby Europe International Championship campaign by facing Belgium in Brussels on Saturday.

"The trophy tour is a shop window that will definitely inspire the next generation," said Ford.

"We came very close to qualification for 2019, so the challenge now is to aim for 2023.

"We walked off the training pitch today and the Rugby World Cup was right there and we were able to have our pictures taken with it.

"These players want to be the first to take Germany to a World Cup. So having the trophy here definitely inspires us."

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