It’s been a gruelling preseason for Chris Farrell and the rest of the Ireland squad but there will be some respite with the commencement of the Rugby World Cup warm-up games which begin this weekend.
Italy are first up for Joe Schmidt’s side on Saturday before games against England and Wales (x2) take place in the coming weeks.
Farrell, who has just five caps to his name in a green jersey, faces stiff competition to get his seat among the 31 players who will travel to Japan but he would have received a little boost with the news that Rory Scannell was released back to Munster earlier in the week.
However, Farrell doesn’t see it this way as he knows there are players across the backline who can shift into the centre positions.
“Not particularly, no,” Farrell responded to the question if he is more confident of travelling because of Scannell’s release.
“There are lots of other lads that can cover centre, can play lots of positions. Joe (Schmidt) is looking for versatility I think when it comes to squad members and players who can play across the backline. You look at Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour and boys like this who have done it for them in the past there.
“Rory (Scannell), obviously, he’s an out and out 12 and plays a bit of 10 as well. For me, it’s just showing the coaches that I can be versatile as well whether that be playing 12, 13, putting myself on the wing when I need to. That will give me the best chance I can get.”
Although Farrell’s focus is immediately on this weekend’s clash with Italy and the desire to add to his five caps, he admits that he is excited about the prospect of playing at a World Cup, along with many other members of the squad.
“Everyone is excited about it. We’ve been excited about it for ages, it’s World Cup year. Even throughout last season you were putting your hand up for your club and trying to impress the international coaches knowing what’s ahead. We’re excited about everything, but most excited getting back on the pitch in a competitive sense this weekend.
“You’re not looking beyond this weekend. I’m not anyway. I’ll just be hoping I can put as much as what I can do into the game and show the coaches I’m ready and if I do end up going to Japan, that I would be well ready to put my hand up, wear the green jersey and represent our country the best I can.”
Ireland will be looking to exorcise the demons of the Six Nations by putting in good performances and gaining momentum over the next couple of weeks and after the exhausting preseason which the players have been put through, Farrell believes they will be one of the best-prepared teams competing in Japan.
“It’s important for us to get a winning mentality throughout these four games before we get into Scotland. Of course, that’s a huge one, the first game will put us in a good position or it could end up being the opposite.
“These games aren’t being treated any differently because they’re warm-up games. This weekend, the team that plays Italy will be as well prepared as the team that plays Scotland in the group stage. You’ve got to prepare for every game as if it’s the same and we’re professionals for a long time. In this Irish set-up, I’d like to think we’re one of the best-prepared teams in the international field.”