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History won’t be enough to satisfy Farrell as he steps into Kiss’ shoes

By Jonathan Bradley

As he aims to fill the void left by Les Kiss, Ireland’s new defence coach Andy Farrell is already thinking big.

Three tussles in South Africa beginning next weekend will be Farrell’s first games as part of Joe Schmidt’s coaching ticket and, heading to a country where Ireland have yet to win a solitary Test, he wants to mark the occasion with a series victory.

When asked if the first clash in Cape Town represented the best chance of a triumph, he was unequivocal when replying that one, admittedly historic, win would not represent a satisfactory return. 

“We want to win all of the games,” he said. “We don’t want to just rest on our laurels.

“We don’t want to go down and win one game, we want to go for the series, win every game.”

When Kiss departed to take up the reins at Ulster following the World Cup, he took almost eight years of Irish international coaching experience with him but, in Farrell, the IRFU landed a man with a CV that boasts stints with both England and the 2013 Lions.

Having replaced another former Rugby League star, Farrell took the opportunity this week to hail the work of his predecessor.

“I’m very fortunate to be in a position where Les Kiss has been around for years so it’s not as if I’m coming in at an average base,” he said. “It’s a base that’s very high. Les has done a fantastic job. I need to change a few things, not much, and put my own stamp on how I’d like the defence to be for Ireland.

“I’ll keep that to myself for this moment in time and let the players know first and see if we can bring that onto the arena in South Africa.”

Having plenty of experience sitting in the opposing coaches’ box, Farrell is now eagerly anticipating his first chance to work alongside Schmidt.

“There are two reasons I’m so excited about being part of this coaching staff,” he said.

“One is to be involved in this coaching group because I’ve coached against them before and you always have to be on your guard, because you know when you come up against Ireland you’ll have a task on your hands not to be out-coached.

“There’s no doubt about it, they’ve always got a plan that’s going to test you.

“To be involved with Joe with his record and his background, it isn’t just about results it’s about the know-how and class that you’ve got.

“Their record speaks for itself, I just want to keep getting better personally.

“We have a fantastic coaching team here that looks at the whole bigger picture, but my department is defence and it’s going to be tested in South Africa, so I’ve got my hands full.

“The challenge is one that really excites me because I feel that defence is about attitude, and we want to create history so we have to show some real proper attitude.

“We’ve got a couple of days in camp and then we’ll talk about the mentality to go into the cauldron and win a game in South Africa. That’s my role and it’s up to me to put a stamp on that.”

The second reason for his excitement, he says, is to once again coach those he went to Australia with three summers ago.

“On top of the coaching side, when I got a chance to work with some of these guys they were at the forefront of the work ethic on and off the field,” he added.

“They were setting the tone on the Lions tour, they’re a very inquisitive bunch who ask all the right questions and want to get better.”

South Africa have been forced to replace lock Pieter-Steph du Toit in their squad for the series. A scan revealed he has suffered a grade two hamstring tear with Franco Mostert of the Lions being called into camp yesterday. Mostert had been set to take on the England Saxons side with South Africa ‘A’.

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