Ireland have shown few signs that they are evolving under Andy Farrell since he took over as head coach, according to Paddy Wallace.
By the time Ireland had been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage by a rampant All Blacks side in 2019 it was safe to say that Joe Schmidt‘s tactics were no longer working.
The New Zealander is the most successful Ireland head coach in history, delivering three Six Nations titles, two victories against the All Blacks and consistent wins over South Africa and Australia.
However, Ireland had become predictable in the latter stages of Schmidt’s tenure and major changes were needed if the men in green were to return to the lofty heights they reached in 2018.
‘It’s very hard to see evolution’
Wallace, a former Ulster and Ireland player, told RTE‘s Morning Ireland that those much-needed changes are not yet apparent under Farrell.
“There was a lot of talk after the World Cup that Ireland needed to develop their style of play. They were found wanting against a really exciting Japanese team. That evolution hasn’t really occurred yet.
“I think given the Covid restraints on Andy being able to put his stamp on the team, he hasn’t really had a great deal of time with the squad and it’s a couple of weeks here and a couple of weeks there, it’s very hard to see that evolution.
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“At the moment, you can see it in the stats of yesterday’s game. The offload count 11-3 in France’s favour really sums it up because Ireland had more possession, France had to make more tackles.
“Ireland had an extra 40 carries and from those 40 carries, they’re still almost 10 short on the offload count.
“That would be the worry, their ability to promote the ball and play with a bit more flair and get on the front foot is a wee bit lacking in comparison to the French, certainly yesterday,” Wallace said.
Signs of progress
Farrell had an injury-depleted squad to choose from for the encounter with Les Bleus, with the likes of Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray and James Ryan all unavailable.
Because of this, Wallace admitted that it was hard to make a judgement on the team’s progression from the loss to Six Nations favourites France.
“Signs of progress? It’s very difficult to judge given the bare bones almost of that Irish team going out against a team that I picked to win the championship – the French who seem to have really got their act together,” he said.
“Ireland just came up short in the end. Their attritional best just wasn’t enough to beat the French who are able to produce moments of magic and a wee bit of x-factor seemingly as and when they needed it.”