Andy Farrell's contribution taking Ireland to new heights
As Ireland cruised through another round of Six Nations action against Italy in Dublin, it was hard to look past the enormity of the job that Andy Farrell has done with this Irish squad.
When asked, Farrell will deflect and heap praise on the job that Joe Schmidt did to bring them to the next level, and it would be ignorant to dismiss the professionalism and systems that Schmidt put in place.
Farrell has brought a different dynamic to the squad now, maybe learning from his time under Schmidt, but he also had a role to play in that era.
Another quarter-final loss will go down in the history books, you can’t deny the black and white of Ireland failing to progress. It will fill column inches for some time yet. However, this was different and there is unquestionable progress under Farrell.
Farrell is an intriguing person, never mind coach. His emotional intelligence is evident when you hear how the players speak about him in the media. He captures the mind of his players too, I know that first hand from his brief spell as a consultant coach to Anthony Foley in Munster. That was almost eight years ago, and there is no doubt he’s even better now.
His management is one of his best attributes. How he manages to be successful while captivating the whole group is the biggest mystery. He keeps high standards without losing openness and honesty.
There are examples all around the squad showing just how difficult a task it could be to keep a handle on this Irish team, but it comes across as an easy management task for Farrell and his team.
To keep James Ryan and Iain Henderson motivated and feeling valued in their leadership roles, while invigorating the energy that Joe McCarthy is contributing on the pitch, it’s a monumental task. Having