Farrell dares the Irish to dream of World Cup glory
SPOTLIGHT: Ireland coach Andy Farrell banged the drum for his side, saying “why cannot we dare to dream” of winning the World Cup in 2023.
Farrell’s desire to land the biggest prize in the sport would be music to the ears of Irish fans who have yet to even see their team reach the semifinals despite entering the tournament on several occasions with high hopes.
The 46-year-old Englishman faces a good test of what stage his side are at with Tests next month against Japan, New Zealand – both of whom beat the Irish at the 2019 World Cup – and Argentina, who have consistently been Ireland’s bogey team at the quadrennial showpiece.
Farrell’s side goes into November’s Tests on a run of five successive victories including probably their most impressive performance, since he took over after the 2019 World Cup, a 32-18 win over England in the Six Nations clash in March.
“Why can’t we dare to dream? Why can’t we?” said Farrell during a virtual media briefing.
“I’m sure that there are five or six or seven teams, it might be 10 teams that’ll be in the same position by the World Cup but why don’t we embrace the challenge and use that challenge to better our journey along the way?
“That’s the message to the players, so let’s get started on that.”
Farrell – who stepped up to the role after being assistant to predecessor Joe Schmidt – joked when asked what stage the Irish were at in their prep for the World Cup.
“Halfway,” he said with a hearty chuckle before adding a more serious assessment.
“Listen there is always going to be room for improvement.
“We are always seeking consistency of performance, backing one good one up with another that is why these three Tests will be good for us.
“They are all going to be opportunities for us but along the journey there will be bumps in the road but those too will be good for us.”
‘Once in a generation player’
Farrell said all three Tests represented dangers and posed different challenges.
“We all know the games coming up will test us massively,” he said.
“We had trouble with Japan at the last World Cup and have massive respect for them, they have threats across the field.
“Then we have consistently the best team in the world the All Blacks and finally Argentina, who are always physical and abrasive.
“That is what top level rugby is all about, performing consistently week in week out.”
The Japan Test on Saturday week could see Irish legend Johnny Sexton make his 100th appearance for his country since making his debut against Fiji in 2009.
Farrell said he will be delighted such a great servant to the Irish cause will have the occasion marked by a full house at Lansdowne Road – COVID restrictions had prevented crowds attending previously.
Farrell says Sexton is a rare bird.
“He’s a once-in-a-generation type of player and these players don’t tend to know what makes them tick that much,” said Farrell.
“They just love being in it, they love trying to improve, they love driving the team to get better, they love performing on the big stage.
“He’s all of those things thrown into one.
“I can’t say enough about the bloke.”