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Farrell defends his attack but wants to see better decisions



Andy Farrell will be preparing his team to face South Africa in Paris

Andy Farrell will be preparing his team to face South Africa in Paris

�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Andy Farrell will be preparing his team to face South Africa in Paris

Andy Farrell is aware of the chatter outside the four walls of Ireland's team base and training centre, he can feel the growing pressure that surrounds his camp from the outside.

He was part of the coaching ticket that raised expectations, so he knows the consequences of falling short. While his team have been hit by injury and bad luck in the defeats to Wales and France, they have also failed to take advantage of the opportunities within their own control and that has led to major question-marks about the boss and his staff.

All week, Ireland's struggles have been a source of intense debate and invariably the coach's future comes into the equation.

"You either embrace pressure or you get buried by it," Farrell said. "I enjoy it. It makes you feel alive."

As a player, Farrell rarely took a back­wards step and yesterday he confronted the criticism of his team head on as he admitted he is concerned by the lack of incision in Ireland's attack.

On Sunday, he referred to France as a team on an upward curve. How, we wondered, would he describe the equiv­alent graph of Ireland's progress under his watch?

"A bit less upward," he said.

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"Some really bright moments that gives you the belief that we're thriving on what we're trying to achieve and then obviously, with the game at the weekend, I thought it was a game that we could have won had we dealt with a few moments a little bit better.

"I understand the attack process. I understand the questions people are asking because that's what people want to see: tries scored, attacking flair etc. But, attack comes from opportunities that are created from all sorts of differ­ent areas of the game and it's combin­ing the bits together for us that needs a focus as well.

"For example, at the start of the sec­ond-half (against France), we had a poor exit that we kicked 10 metres to the side. For the rest of the game, we're banging it 60 metres downfield and our exits have been pretty good.

"We have to back that up with a strong intent in our defence and they went straight through the middle.

"So, that has an effect for the next 10 minutes on how you play the game, attacking wise and game-understand­ing-wise etc. It's combining all the bits together etc; The discipline bits, the focus that you have in all sorts of areas.

"The blend of whether to maul the team, whether to come off the top or what you've got to do. You've got to go through your menu or you're going to feel the game for what you're good at it. It's all those types of bits that is the focus for us now."

Under Farrell and Mike Catt, the play­ers have been given more autonomy within the attack but it appears they lack the confidence in their own deci­sion-making.

He added: "If you get a ball that's on (the) halfway line and you've got 40 metres of space on the right-hand side, are you going to run, pass or kick? So, those decisions have always been in the game. If you're a forward, you're taking the ball forward and there's a 10-metre space on either side of you, are you gonna tuck or are you going to pass the ball?

"Making good decisions at the break­down. Are we sending too many players into the breakdown? It's all part of the decision-making process.

"I think it's got lost in translation really that we're trying to complicate things. We're not at all. The game is still as simple as it always has been. You've got to play into space, whether it's front of you or to the side of you."

Belfast Telegraph