Farrell: Wales 'honeymoon' is over
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Wayne Pivac and Wales are a “nice marriage”, but Ireland coach Andy Farrell says his side can disrupt their wedded bliss at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The 44-year-old Englishman made a winning start to his tenure with an edgy 19-12 win over Scotland last weekend while Pivac made it two from two with a 42-0 walloping of hapless Italy.
Pivac, whose first game in charge was an entertaining 43-33 victory over the Barbarians last November, was renowned when in charge of Welsh region Scarlets for encouraging free-flowing, attacking rugby.
“I think that’s what we saw at the weekend, and we saw a little bit of what Wayne brings from his Scarlets days,” Farrell told reporters in his pre-match press conference at Ireland’s training base.
“I think it’s a nice marriage.
“First up they got off to a great start. We have to be aware of all that.
“I think that what we did last week worked really well. We concentrated on ourselves, we were wary of Scotland and what they were going to bring.
“I’m sure we can deal with Wales in the right manner.
“I think we need to get our own house in order.”
Farrell said Pivac had evidently worked on the Welsh defence since the Barbarians match, with the former New Zealand police constable instilling more discipline.
Farrell knows a lot about the defence side of the game having been praised for his work on the Irish one. Two victories over New Zealand and the 2018 Grand Slam came during his time as defence coach under Joe Schmidt.
“I spoke to Wayne [Pivac] at the Six Nations launch [a fortnight ago] and he said it [the Barbarians match] was very, very useful,” said Farrell.
“Obviously, attack takes a while to get a grip of and he’s coached most of the boys there, so there’s a bit of a head-start there.
“He was happy with and grateful for the week to get a decent start, but he said he wasn’t quite happy with the other side of the ball and I thought defence was excellent at the weekend.
“After a performance, you get to fix a few things and I thought they did that at the weekend defensively.”
‘He was a warrior’
Farrell said the Irish must prevent the Grand Slam holders from getting quick ball to a backline that is bursting with talent and unlikely to be as profligate in spurning chances as the Scots were last Saturday.
“If they get quick ball you can’t have line speed, first and foremost you have to win your collisions and that’s what happens in top-level rugby across the world,” he said.
“That’s got to be the Holy Grail really.”
Farrell has kept the changes in the starting line-up to a minimum, bringing in Robbie Henshaw in the centre for the injured Garry Ringrose.
Veteran Peter O’Mahony steps in for Caelan Doris. The latter is unavailable after a head injury which forced him off inside five minutes of his international debut.
Farrell said O’Mahony, who came as an early replacement for Doris, was a pretty classy alternative.
“I hope he brings the same as what he did off the bench,” said Farrell.
“He was bleeding a lot.
“He got a smack on the back of the neck after a brilliant turnover.
“I thought he was a warrior out there, Pete.”
Farrell says there is plenty to be worked on, primarily seizing their opportunities when they spring up.
“Of course, the quality of the team we’re playing against — the game will take its own course as we always know it will,” he said.
“Recognising opportunities for us, the opportunities that arise, we need to be better as far as that’s concerned.
“Will they arise because we’re playing against a good side? Only time will tell.”
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