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17th Sep 2023

Johnny Sexton really enjoyed Andy Farrell’s response when asked if Ireland ‘held much back’ for South Africa

Patrick McCarry

Andy Farrell

“It’s a big week ahead.”

It was understandable, given the game that is coming swiftly into focus next Saturday, that Johnny Sexton and Andy Farrell were asked a few South Africa questions, less than an hour after seeing off Tonga.

Such is the nature of this World Cup that once one challenge is passed, the next one is almost immediately spoken of. Over on RTE, for example, the panel was already debating the starting XV calls for the Springbok game.

Farrell, however, was not having one question about Ireland’s preparations for the reigning world champions.

Andy FarrellIreland captain Johnny Sexton and coach Andy Farrell. (Credit: World Rugby)

Andy Farrell on South Africa

“It was a good performance by us,” Andy Farrell reflected after Ireland had seen off Tonga, 59-16, and scored eight tries in the process.

“The Tongans are always going to get stuck in to you and force a few errors. It’s still a bit humid and the ball is greasy and the jerseys are very wet.

“In the first half, we had some good field position and we coughed up a bit of ball in the red zone, but I thought we stayed mentally on it. I thought we were in control of the game the whole way through as far as territory is concerned and eventually we turned that pressure into points, which is very pleasing.”

“We need to dust ourselves down and recover properly,” Farrell continued. “It’s a big week ahead. We’re playing against a fantastic side in South Africa. The couple of weeks that we’ve had so far have been building nicely. We’ll review that and look forward to the week ahead.”

Johnny Sexton was then asked how different it is facing the Springboks, in terms of time and space. “That’s the thing they pride themselves on, isn’t it? They’ve shown that they’re a tough team to play against. We need to be very accurate with when we decide to take it on, and when we decide to kick… They try and put everyone under a huge amount of pressure.”

Farrell was asked, by the same reporter,  if Ireland had ‘held much back, in terms of power-plays and moves’. The Ireland coach was straight back in with a sarcastic response:

“Yes, loads, Loads.”

That comment drew a laugh from Sexton as Farrell fixed the reporter with a stare and nodded his head (around 12:00 in the video):

When another reporter asked about Farrell’s selection of a strong Ireland XV being vindicated by the result, he lit upon that too. Farrell commented:

“I don’t see vindication at all. I understand why people have an opinion but we make calculated decisions based on the facts that we’ve got and what’s best for our team. So I don’t think I need to vindicate myself in what decision we make.

“The right thing for our team is to get that little bit of continuity, get more game time and get the job done and get people off at the right time, etcetera.”

Farrell then spoke about a few areas ‘we need to fix up for next week’ but stressed that the fight and determination shown by his side are encouraging signs, heading into the games against South Africa and Scotland.

HOUSE OF RUGBY WITH PETER STRINGER & JOHNE MURPHY:

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