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Farrell steps in as bereaved Schmidt flies home to NZ

 

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Andy Farrell is leading Ireland's preparations for Saturday's opening World Cup warm-up game against Italy after Joe Schmidt returned to New Zealand due to a family bereavement.

The defence coach, who takes over from Schmidt once Ireland's interest in the tournament in Japan concludes, took the sessions at Carton House on Monday and yesterday and will oversee tomorrow's training before the team is named.

While offering condolences to Schmidt and his family, scrum coach Greg Feek said the head coach is still in touch with his team.

"Unfortunately, Joe had to go back to New Zealand due to a family bereavement. He'll be back in a few days' time. On behalf of the team, I'd like to pass on our condolences to Joe and his wider family," he said.

"He'll be back at some stage near the end of the week. Joe has things in place and that includes the management, particularly the coaches and the players know their roles. It has been quite seamless and we all know Joe is on the computer keeping an eye on things as well.

"That's the environment we're in, we've got to keep going and prepare for a really important Test match this week. Andy has taken the reins and has doing quite a good job."

Ulster utility back Will Addison sat out yesterday and is a doubt for Saturday, with Ireland likely to field an experimental line-up.

And centre Chris Farrell says those involved will be keen to set the tone with just over a month to go before their tournament opener.

"It's important for us to get a winning mentality throughout these four games," he said.

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