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Farrell reveals he is willing to take top Lions job for 2021 tour

Ireland coach Andy Farrell
Ireland coach Andy Farrell

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Andy Farrell has not ruled out taking a job with the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

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The Ireland defence coach takes over the top job from Joe Schmidt after this year's World Cup and described it as the greatest challenge of his career.

He has been a successful defence coach on the last two Lions tours and will be in the frame for the top job for the tour of South Africa in two years' time.

Warren Gatland, Schmidt, Gregor Townsend and Eddie Jones will all be in contention for the prestigious role. In 2017, Schmidt opted not to get involved in order to focus on the development of his Ireland squad.

Farrell said he had not considered the position but accepted that he would have to give it some thought if he was approached about getting involved.

"I've not even thought about that. The Lions is special," he said yesterday. "Just off the top of my head, people have done it in the past haven't they? But you've got to be asked the question first.

"The question comes pretty late as far as the Lions is concerned. It's not something I've even given a minute's thought to."

Farrell was speaking at his first press conference since being announced as Schmidt's successor as Ireland coach and he said the offer was too good to pass up.

"Yeah, 100%. It's something I've been working towards, something I'm up for and excited about at the same time," he said when asked if this was the biggest challenge of his career after yesterday's open training session at the Aviva Stadium.

"I had absolutely no doubts whatsoever. A very easy decision. I'm proud and privileged to be asked to take over after such a brilliant coach like Joe."

Johnny Sexton trained fully as 19 members of the panel that beat Scotland took on the Under-20s in training and Farrell said the talismanic out-half will be fit to face Italy tomorrow week.

Robbie Henshaw is due to return to training next week, but Garry Ringrose and Tadhg Beirne remain doubts.

"Johnny is fine. He trained fully. He will be ready to go," Farrell said of the vice-captain who came off with a head injury 23 minutes into the win over Scotland.

"Robbie Henshaw will be fit to train next week, Garry Ringrose, we will just assess how he is progressing over the weekend. We will see where we are at next week with him."

French referee Romain Poite will take charge of the March 30 Champions Cup quarter-final between Leinster and Ulster.

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