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Farrell would do well to follow his old pal Lancaster's advice



Testing times: Andy Farrell faces big challenges ahead

Testing times: Andy Farrell faces big challenges ahead

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Testing times: Andy Farrell faces big challenges ahead

Andy Farrell doesn't need to download a podcast to pick Stuart Lancaster's brain, he only has to pick up the phone.

But, over the course of a fascinating 50 minutes on BBC's Rugby Weekly, the Leinster senior coach covered plenty of ground in his disarmingly open style.​ While he still refrains from getting into the debacle that was the 2015 World Cup, Lancaster did talk about some of the pitfalls he encountered when managing England.​

No doubt he has discussed these with Farrell, who was, of course, his assistant during that period.​

But if they did speak about it, it looks like the new Ireland coach is about to ignore one of the key lessons Lancaster learnt from his time as the head coach of England.​

"It's 100% a managerial role," he said of the job.​

"You deal with all of the selection decisions on Monday night in Pennyhill Park (England's base), you want to tell the players who is playing and who is not so they can prepare for the game.​

"Then you've got to deal with the clubs, who want to know if their players are coming back at the weekend, the media guy is asking questions, the kitman wants to know who is playing... you just have so many moving parts and your mind is preoccupied with managing.​

"Your mind is on training, but it is very, very difficult to do both. I didn't have a designated team manager, that Richard Hill (current England manager) role.​

"I'm not sure it's public knowledge, but I met with Eddie (Jones) not long after the World Cup... the one thing I said to him was 'don't underestimate the complexity of the role, get someone in'. He got Hilly in and that allows Eddie to concentrate on coaching."

Before Christmas, it was announced that Paul Dean would step down as the team manager and IRFU performance director David Nucifora subsequently confirmed that the former Ireland out-half would not be directly replaced.​

That decision runs counter to Lancaster's key takeaway from his time as an international coach.​

The role of the manager was whatever the coach wanted it to be. Donal Lenihan, Brian O'Brien, Paul McNaughton, Mick Kearney and Dean all brought different strengths to the job, but Nucifora and Farrell have decided to press on without one.​

Writing in the Sunday Independent, Brendan Fanning has raised this as a possible faux pas by the new man, who is, after all, facing into his first match as a head coach against Scotland in two weeks' time.​

Although Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy are part of the old regime, and Mike Catt worked with Conor O'Shea with Italy, none of them are overly experienced in the high performance world and all will be occupied by their own roles during match weeks.​

Farrell will be dealing with all of the ancillary issues that Lancaster used to when he worked for him with England.​

It will pull him every which way and distract from his focus on the job at hand, something he's never had to deal with before.​

Perhaps he will thrive but, if it proves to be overwhelming, he should follow Lancaster's advice to Jones and send for expert help.

Belfast Telegraph