'You either embrace pressure or get buried by it'
SPOTLIGHT: Coach Andy Farrell said he “embraces” the pressure he is under after Ireland lost their opening two Six Nations matches for the first time, but wants to see greater attacking thrust from his side.
Farrell’s men have garnered two losing bonus points in narrow losses to Wales (16-21) and tournament favourites France (13-15).
The next challenge for the English head coach is to beat the only side below them in the table – Italy in Rome on February 27.
Farrell’s results in his first year in charge in 2020 were judged “acceptable” by the Irish Rugby Football Union as his side finished third..
“I have dealt with it [pressure] all my life,” the 45-year-old.
“You either embrace pressure or get buried by it.
“I enjoy it, it makes you feel alive. Taking this gig on if you do not have pressure on you, you are not living. It goes with the territory I suppose.”
Farrell succeeded Joe Schmidt as head coach following the 2019 World Cup.
He was praised for his work in defence and the role that played in their 2018 Grand Slam triumph.
However, it is Ireland’s attack that is causing anxiety.
They have scored just twice in their two matches having been joint top try scorers last year with 17.
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“To say I am concerned is stating the obvious at the number of points we have scored lately,” he said.
“However, as to where we are going behind the scenes in offence and what happened in the games over the past year, I am confident of where we are going.”
Farrell praised the “character, the will and the fight” but added the players needed to be better at imposing their game on opponents.
He refused to be drawn on whether he would include some inexperienced players in the team for the match in Rome.
He will have captain Johnny Sexton and lock James Ryan available for selection after they missed the les Bleus loss due to knocks to the head.
He will, though, still be without back row forward Caelan Doris, who had to return to his province Leinster before the Wales game due to head issues.
“We will not see him anytime soon,” said Farrell.
“With regard to the team for Italy, I will do what is right in terms of getting the best performance out of them.
“That means selecting the strongest side to make that happen.”