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06th Nov 2015

Irish rugby’s in-form centre is tearing it up in France

Serious talent

Patrick McCarry

Bernard Jackman’s Grenoble have been living and dying by the sword this season. Chris Farrell is swinging a sabre.

While Joe Schmidt was musing on his manufactured midfield and struggling to cope with the loss of Jared Payne, Farrell was settling into his second season of Top 14 rugby.

The former Ulster and Ireland U20 centre moved to Grenoble in the summer of 2014 and had a positive start to rugby life in France.

His form merited a call up to the Emerging Ireland squad, at least, this year but he got an extended summer break. He started the Top 14 season in the 13 jersey as his side beat Agen.

Jackman dropped him to the bench for the next few games but he was re-installed in midfield last month. He has not looked back.

The 22-year-old has formed good understandings with Fabrice Estebanez and Gio Alpon. Indeed, the South African teed up Farrell for his first try of the season in the 31-23 win over Castres.

Three-time European champions Toulon posed a sterner examination, last Sunday, but Farrell was up to it.

For a man measuring 6′ 5″, Farrell has deft feet and an excellent burst of acceleration. Those aspects, plus power and awareness, were on show as he made a superb line break to set up Alpon for his try in a 33-29 victory.

Last season, Jackman tipped Farrell as a “dark horse” to make Schmidt’s World Cup squad.

That proved to be a stretch but if the Ulster man keeps up is current form, and Grenoble continue to pick up scalps, he should put himself in the picture for the 2016 Six Nations.

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