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Schmidt's successor Farrell claims he is not looking past World Cup

No distractions: Ireland’s defence coach Andy Farrell
No distractions: Ireland’s defence coach Andy Farrell

By Cian Tracey

Andy Farrell wouldn't be human if he wasn't thinking about what lies ahead for him in the coming months.

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Ireland's defence coach has enough on his plate in Japan to keep him occupied but, even still, it must be impossible to ignore the fact that in the not-too-distant future, he will stepping into his first head coach role.

The enormity of replacing Joe Schmidt is obvious, and it will be fascinating to observe how much of the Kiwi Farrell will model himself on. He is his own man, however, and will be eager to put his own stamp on things when the time comes.

Schmidt's recent revelation that he plans to remain in Dublin rather than return to New Zealand when his contract with the IRFU expires after the World Cup is interesting as his presence will certainly still be felt when Farrell steps into the hot seat.

The Englishman already plays an extremely significant role within the squad and, while he insists that he is not thinking about what the future holds, his mind must sometimes wonder.

"Definitely not, no," Farrell says. "That's one thing that will never happen. I wouldn't be true to the players and I certainly wouldn't be true to myself if I wasn't being myself.

"Do I look into the future? Obviously there are plans that have to be, it would be stupid not to do a bit of planning.

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"That's what everyone does. But honestly, if you ask me about the future, I'm not even thinking about Japan that much at this moment in time and that's a six-day turnaround. It's been full-on for this game and that's the way it will stay."

Given how much of a threat Scotland will pose on Sunday, Farrell cannot afford to be anything other than utterly concentrated on how his defence is going to nullify the threat of Gregor Townsend's dangerous outfit.

For all of the improvements that Ireland have made since, the defeat to England last month still serves as a major warning of what can happen when the defensive system collapses.

The players are fully aware that their moment to shine on the world stage is fast approaching, but Farrell warned that they must strike the right balance and stick to the game plan.

"Desperation is a disease, really, because it makes you make bad decisions," he maintains.

"And that's what experience gives you - to make sure that you're focused in the right way, and that's why I say that we are building. We don't want to reach boiling point on Wednesday or Friday. We've got experienced players - not just the older guys. We've got 24, 25, 26-year-olds who are experienced at this level as well. They know what it takes to build through a week."

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