Chris Farrell reveals Joe Schmidt's unique influence in his move to Munster
Munster have got themselves a real gem in Chris Farrell and Joe Schmidt knows all about it.
After three seasons in the Top 14 with Bernard Jackman's Grenoble, Farrell will return to Ireland this summer.
The Fivemiletown native is not returning to Ulster, where he first found acclaim and won his Ireland U20 caps. Instead, he will join up with former U20 teammate JJ Hanrahan and line out at Thomond Park for Munster.
The 23-year-old joined The Hard Yards rugby podcast to discuss his move and how both Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt played key roles in getting him to switch from Grenoble to Limerick.
The genesis of Farrell's return to Ireland began with his agent at the tail-end of last season, when Grenoble offered him a contract extension. He said:
"We decided that it was probably time to move, not necessarily a more ambitious club, to a club that were in the top six and playing Champions Cup rugby. Munster were not guaranteed of that last season and we were unsure of where they were going but I spoke to Rassie in the off-season. I went to meet him before the start of this season and he was ambitious.
"I then spoke to [Grenoble teammate] Gio Aplon, who had played under Rassie, and our defence coach. Both couldn't speak highly enough of him. From there, it was an obvious choice.
"It was a club that I felt I could have a huge impact at."
Farrell's Ireland ambitions were also part of the conversation. He continued:
"I went home and I did speak to Joe in the off-season and I went to meet him in pre-season for a pretty informal chat. He thought it was a good idea to consider moving home.
"[From] the start of this season, and throughout, I've had a bit of contact with Joe. He has analysed quite a few of my games and he has sent me through lots of advice from games - like 'that was well done' or 'here is what you could have done here to improve'.
"That sort of environment where someone is giving you feedback - where an international coach is taking the time to give you feedback - I want to be part of that. It definitely helps with making the decision to come home to a really professional environment."
The prospect of Farrell teaming up with Rory Scannell in the Munster midfield next season is damn exciting.
Joe Schmidt will be watching.