Andy Farrell has spoken openly for the first time since it was announced that he would be taking over as Ireland head coach after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Joe Schmidt will step down as Ireland boss after the tournament and a new era will begin with Farrell at the helm as he faces the unenviable task of taking over from the Kiwi who has had a transformative effect on Irish rugby.
However, there are very few candidates out there who you could say deserve the position over the Wigan native.
Farrell has been involved in high-quality setups in recent years in addition to his time as defence coach of Ireland. His coaching skills have been widely praised during his time with the British and Irish Lions in 2017 and 2013.
Experience at the highest level also came during his time with England which ultimately came to an end after their disappointing 2015 World Cup exit.
Perhaps more importantly, he has the utmost respect of the players who he has coached in any team.
“Not too long before that [when the announcement was made],” Farrell said when asked when he found out he would be taking over.
“A great moment obviously, as I say in the statement, I’m proud and privileged to be asked to take over after such a brilliant coach like Joe. Fortunately enough as well, I get a bit of time to keep on learning in the meantime. It’s a massive honour to be given the opportunity. Why? Because it’s a privilege to be involved with a group. The people that we’ve got; the players, the staff. The players are great people to work with. I feel where we’re going in the future is a bright place as well.”
Farrell admits that he has become a better coach during his time in Ireland due to not only learning from Schmidt but due to the structures within the coaching set up which encourages the sharing of information, ideas and feedback.
“Well, you’re learning all the time, aren’t you? No matter who you’re working with. The experiences that you go through together whether it be the losses, a poor performance or whether it be the wins – you’re learning constantly.
“What you get when you’re in our environment, is you get to share those ideas and we tend to give quite a lot of feedback to each other. You’re learning constantly all the time and it obviously shapes the way that you think and learn on the run.”
Farrell also spoke about the makeup of his coaching team after the World Cup and admits that he won’t know whether he will still be in charge of defence, it depends on the “gels and fits” of the potential coaching group.
“We’ll see. There’s different permutations when a coaching team come together, when a management team come together.
“It’s all about gels and fits. As things become clearer over the next couple of months, we’ll get to that.”