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Ireland rugby head coach Andy Farrell has set Ireland the target of winning the Six Nations which resumes in October. The Irish will face Italy and France on October 24th and 31st respectively.
Farrell has said that Ireland’s fate is at their own hands. Despite a poor World Cup losing to New Zealand in the quarter-finals, the side have progressed under Farrell. They beat Scotland and Wales, but failed in beating England. Eddie Jones’ side winning 24-12. The Grand Slam cannot be won this year as all teams lost games. So with two games to go Ireland are still in the mix to win a 4th title in 7 years. Ireland will need bonus point wins in their final two games. England only have one game left against Italy where they are sure to rack up a big winning margin.
Speaking to reporters Farrell said, “We were gutted the competition didn’t keep rolling on. After a disappointing game against England, the only thing the boys wanted to do was get back on the horse against England. We had a great reflection week and we were brimming to go over to Paris and see what we could do”. Farrell said “destiny is in our own hands”. “All our lads are aware, I’ve been in contact with them, they know what is coming around the corner, from the inter-pro games to get selected and back into that Six Nations” he continued.
He was also asked about the upcoming 8 team competition which will run from November 8th to December 5th. As already mentioned this will include the Six Nations sides plus Japan and Fiji. These games will be broken into two pools of 4 teams and will act as a replacement for the Autumn international games. Farrell said, “We certainly will take it seriously. Any competition that you’re involved in, you want to win it. We’ll never shy away from that”. “What the tournament would bring, with all the big games that are going to happen, is that you would probably utilise a squad that is a little bit bigger than normal – simply because of the run of games, which is World Cup-esque. But we’ll roll with the punches and see where it takes us.”
Farrell was also about players James Lowe and Simon Zebo. On James Lowe, who is now qualified to play for Ireland due to the residence rule he said, “I think he’s been a great tonic for Irish rugby, he’s played some outstanding rugby over the last few years. Like all players, we’ll see how he comes back, whether he comes into form in the early part of the season”. In relation to Simon Zebo, he said that he will not be considered for selection until he returns to Ireland. He said, “The unwritten rule is there to protect Irish rugby. I’m all for that. If Simon Zebo, like anyone else, came back into Ireland, and was at the top of his game, then, knowing the type of form that Zeebs can bring, we’d look at him like everyone else.”
Ireland’s first game in the resumed Six Nations takes place on October 24th with Italy, which will be followed on October 31st with a date with France .