Andy Farrell has drawn on the experience of Munster and Ireland legend Paul O’Connell as his side prepares for the eagerly-anticipated clash with England at Twickenham on Sunday.
In O’Connell’s distinguished career, the Limerick man came up against England on 13 occasions, winning eight times and coming out on the wrong side of the result five times.
Six of those matches took place at the home of English rugby, Twickenham, where O’Connell was a part of an Irish side which won in west London on three occasions. So it’s no surprise that Farrell extended an invitation to O’Connell to be involved in the squad’s preparation as they look to get a result over a side who they have lost to on the last two times they have met.
“He’s been here all week,” Farrell said on Wednesday as he announced his team to play England.
“He’s here until Friday. We like it when people come into camp. We try and invite as many people as we possibly can. It’s not just Paul that’s been in camp this week, there’s a few other guys.
“We like people to try and take stock from the outside and get a feel, the feeling of how camp is. Paul is here to observe and come into all the meetings, share his experience along the way and try and connect with the boys.”
“He’s been there and done that. He’s been to Twickenham a few times and he’s played some big games, so he knows what the boys are going through. So yeah, you see a lot more of the boys gravitating towards him during the week, and that’s great to see.”
O’Connell hasn’t been the only interesting addition to Ireland camp this week as U2 frontman, Bono, also paid a visit to Ireland’s accommodation at Carton House.
“Not too much singing actually,” Farrell said with a grin.
“First of all, we were blown away really that he gave his time up to come over and see us. We invited him in, he was top of the wish list, which was unbelievable really. He put a lot of time and effort into it as well.
“He is quite a private person really but he put a lot of time and effort into being able to answer the questions from the floor in a great manner that we got something out of it. He is obviously a proud Irish man, so he talked a bit about Irishness.”
Ireland’s clash with England at Twickenham kicks off at 3 pm on Sunday. Check out our piece on the TV information for the game so you don’t miss any of the action.