Stephen Ferris: “Questions will be asked of Andy Farrell”


Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is now under to keep his job after a disappointing start to the 2021 Six Nations Championship.

Ireland have lost their opening two fixtures of the Six Nations for the first time ever and have struggled to threaten teams in attacks since Farrell took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Ferris, a former Ireland international, was speaking to BBC Radio Foyle and suggested that Farrell’s position was under threat if the men in green do not improve in their remaining Six Nations matches.

“International rugby is very cut-throat. If Ireland have another couple of rocky weeks, there will be questions asked and rightly so. The head coaches are getting paid a lot of money.

“It’s going to be an interesting couple of months ahead. Some of the other countries used the Autumn Nations Cup as a bit of experiment to see where they were.

“Ireland dabbled a little bit in that but we’re sort of back to the drawing board.”

Ireland’s lack of attacking ability.

Ireland scored a try against the lauded Shaun Edwards-coached French defence. But Farrell’s men struggled to threaten Les Bleus with ball in hand, despite having more possession.

James Lowe came close to scoring a try in the first half, but in the end, Ronan Kelleher was the only Irishman to cross the French try line after being the beneficiary of a lineout mishap.

“There wasn’t any particular moment in that match where Ireland looked very dangerous. There was a [lucky] bounce of a ball for [Ronan] Kelleher’s try off a [Irish] lineout.

“Unfortunately for Ireland they just didn’t show enough enterprise and I think with the Andy Farrell blueprint, there are question marks yet again of where is this Ireland team?

“Chatting to former players and former coaches over the last couple of weekends, we just don’t know what kind of direction Ireland are looking to go.

“The scoreline – yes it was a couple of points and Ireland had a lot of possession – but those last two or three minutes of the game summed it all up with Ireland going backwards.

“There’s a lot to work on over the next couple of weeks and a trip to Italy is now looking a little bit daunting,” Ferris commented.

‘I don’t see an improvement.’

Ireland had similar struggles in the last year of Joe Schmidt’s reign in regards to their unimaginative attacking shape, which ultimately led to a humiliating loss to New Zealand in the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

There were hopes that Ireland would move away from the structured, conservative gameplan that Schmidt had implemented. But Farrell, who was defence coach under the New Zealander has largely kept with the same tactics.

“I don’t see an improvement from after he took over the reins from Joe Schmidt.

“There was all this talk of a more free-flowing offloading game – playing more heads up, letting the guys have free rein – instead of that pragmatic approach of trying to bully the opposition into making mistakes and then capitalising on them. We’re not seeing that,” Ferris said.

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