Former England captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, believes the English setup “regret” letting go of their former coach, Andy Farrell, as they prepare to lock horns with Ireland on Saturday.
The Wigan native joined the national coaching ticket in 2012, however, upon his appointment in 2015, head coach, Eddie Jones, decided to sack the coaching staff that was in place.
The British & Irish Lions coach then made the move to the IRFU in 2016, joining Joe Schmidt’s backroom team. Ireland’s defence has flourished under his stewardship, leading to the announcement that Farrell will succeed Schmidt as head coach when the New Zealander steps down later this year, following the World Cup.
It was revealed that the RFU have tried to coax Farrell back to their set-up following the resignation of Paul Gustard, but he chose to stay on Irish shores.
Dallaglio admits that letting his former teammate go was a mistake by England, given the “fantastic” job he has done with Ireland.
“He’s a special man. He’s got a great aura about him and he’s a serial winner. England chose to dispense of his services and they probably regret that somewhat, but often when you have a setback in your career, the sign of a man is how you respond to that.”
“He’s responded, along with Stuart Lancaster, magnificently and Ireland are definitely benefitting from that – as are the British and Irish Lions. He’s done a fantastic job with them and with Ireland – as a result he’s been given the opportunity to take that forward with Ireland.”
“Yeah, he’s the one that got away, definitely.”
All eyes will be on Farrell’s son, Owen, in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday as he will lead out England as the sole captain in the absence of Dylan Hartley.
Given that the out-half has been accused of a number of questionable tackles of late, both with Saracens and the national side, many have questioned whether his maturity levels in high-pressure games.
However, former captain, Dallaglio, believes Farrell is still learning in his role, likening his temperament to that of his opposite number, Johnny Sexton.
“Owen is a world class player. It’s phenomenal to think of what he’s achieved in the game at such a young age, and some of those records will continue to be broken because he’s an out and out winner.”
“He clearly is such a fierce competitor. He’s not dissimilar to Johnny Sexton in that respect. He’s barking and shouting at everyone, including his own teammates, and that’s a good thing.
“His captaincy, he’s learning.”
The 46-year-old insists that Eddie Jones’ side is almost back to full strength following the return of Billy Vunipola from injury and maintains that they will need all their best players on the field if they are to beat the reigning Grand Slam champions.
“I think Eddie Jones has a strong squad to select from: Both Vunipolas fit, Itoje fit again, Launcbury fit, Courtney Lawes fit.
“It puts England in quite a strong position. Because when they went on that losing streak, while it was concerning, there was mitigation in terms of the players who were out injured.
“Ireland are virtually at full strength, if not at full tilt. It’s a very strong squad, a very settled squad.
“They’re not thinking about who’s starting the game. They’re thinking about who’s making up the bench et cetera. They’re in a strong position. I think it’s nice for England to be in a similarly strong position.
“Ultimately, that’s what we want, the best game and the best players on the field and then we can have a great Test match.”
Former Irish international rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll and former England international and World Cup winning rugby player, Lawrence Dallaglio were at St James Gate to launch the ‘GUINNESS Clear’ campaign and encourage all rugby fans to drink responsibly throughout the GUINNESS Six Nations.
GUINNESS Clear is 100% H2O and available from all good taps nationwide.