In the absence of Joe Schmidt, who has returned to New Zealand due to a family bereavement, Andy Farrell will take charge of Ireland as they face Italy in their first World Cup warm-up game this weekend.
The defence coach will succeed Schmidt as head coach of the Ireland side following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup later this year and so players are using this time to get a deeper insight into his management style.
Farrell was also heavily involved when Ireland faced Italy during the November Series in Chicago last year and Jordi Murphy believes that with this experience, Farrell will fit seamlessly into the head coach role.
“He’s had opportunities, this week and when we played Italy in Chicago, he’s got that big presence to him. He’s a big man, but also a big presence about the place and he’s coached big teams in the past.
“I think it’ll be a duck to water, it’ll be an easy transition for him. We’ve got a glimpse over the last few days, so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like in the future.”
Reiterating his teammate’s point, Munster’s Andrew Conway added that Farrell’s rapport with the players has also added to the overall environment.
“He’s an intimidating man. But he’s an unbelievably clear speaker and he gets his messages across well. But he’s also well able to have the craic and take the piss out of lads as well as anyone.
“He’s got a really healthy mix of everything, but first and foremost you want to put in the defensive effort for him.
“When we played Italy in Chicago in November, he controls the environment really well while also having a bit of craic. So he’s been good to work under.”
Both Conway and Murphy will be hoping to impress not only Farrell but Schmidt as well when they take to the pitch on Saturday for what could be their final showing before the New Zealander finalises his 31-man squad for the World Cup.
Murphy has been named to start at number eight and is hoping to prove his versatility across the back row in order to secure his place on the plane to Japan.
“I’m getting an opportunity and I want to make the most of that. It’s great to have the versatility on my side so hopefully, I can impress this weekend and if I get another opportunity in the weeks to come, I might get to play somewhere else as well.
“If that’s what they want from me, versatility, and it gets you a ticket to go over, then I’m happy to be able to offer that. Like Joe said to me there the last day, he knows I’ve been playing at seven a lot this season but I’d be playing at eight this weekend, my answer to that was I just want to play.”
Earlier this week, Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell were cut from the Ireland squad for this weekend’s game, effectively ending their hopes of taking part in the World Cup.
While Conway maintains that their departure isn’t being used to “focus the mind”, he hopes that a strong performance this weekend will help him earn another chance to impress in their upcoming games against England and Wales.
“You’re aware that will happen as the weeks go by. It’s tough on everyone. It’s mainly tough on the guys that are going but it does make you realise you have to be putting your best foot forward every session.
“We’re the lucky ones who get to put the jersey on this weekend and it’s important not to take that for granted.
“The message coming from the group, and you know from being in this environment for a while, putting the team first will make the individual look good. Making the guy next to you look good will benefit the team. That’s always been the vibe in here.”