Farrell picks Ireland over B&I Lions
SPOTLIGHT: Andy Farrell says he will place his responsibilities as head coach of Ireland ahead of being a coach under Warren Gatland on the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
Ireland are slated to undertake a tour of the Pacific Islands in June but like the Lions tour in July both are far from certain to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Farrell has been linked to being part of Gatland’s coaching team – he served under him on the 2013 and 2017 tours of Australia and New Zealand respectively – but made it clear on Thursday Ireland were his priority.
“Like I’ve always said – and it’s the truth – I will always do the right thing for Irish rugby,” he said at a press conference.
“At this moment in time, we don’t know whether one tour is going ahead, whether both tours are going ahead.
“We’ve no clarity and no certainty on anything yet, so I suppose we will have to wait until the end of the month.”
Farrell has two tough final games of the Six Nations ahead of him with Scotland on Sunday week and rounding it off the following Saturday at home against England.
However, he can at least go into the Scottish game on the back of their first win of the tournament, a 48-10 whipping of hapless Italy.
“They are two massive games for us,” said Farrell.
“They are the old enemies, the rivalry is ripe as ever with the Scots and England.
“All three teams want to finish on a high.
“That is why we love it [the Six Nations] as the goalposts keep changing week to week.
“There is an emotional aspect that comes with that.”
‘Attitude was first class’
Farrell’s week following the Italy success has been full of positive news with two key players, captain Johnny Sexton and flank Peter O’Mahony, signing new contracts.
Sexton signed a one-year extension on Tuesday and O’Mahony, who is serving a suspension due to being sent off in the opening 16-21 defeat by Wales, signed a two-year contract on Thursday.
“This is fantastic news as they are two very important parts of our jigsaw going forward,” said Farrell.
“They are delighted to get over the line with their contracts and settle their futures.”
O’Mahony could return for the England match but in the meantime Sexton and his teammates will, said Farrell, be working on things they could improve on from the Italy match.
Ireland under Farrell beat the Scots twice last year but lost badly to England on two occasions.
“There are plenty of areas to work on,” he said.
“Like every single game you always analyse your own game and work on what could be improved.
“It is terrific though after a couple of defeats and the pressure was on the players to show our character which they did and our attitude was first class.
“That allows us going forward to the Scotland game not to dwell on the negatives but look at the positives.”