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Flannery And Heaslip Praise Underrated Trait Of Andy Farrell's Coaching

Flannery And Heaslip Praise Underrated Trait Of Andy Farrell's Coaching
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Saturday evening sees Ireland face off with England on the verge of Six Nations glory, with a Grand Slam only 80 minutes away for Andy Farrell's team.

The Englishman has overseen a remarkable build in strength since taking over from Joe Schmidt as head coach in 2019, and has earned the plaudits of the rugby world, with Ireland ascending to #1 in the World Rankings.

One element of his coaching that has earned praise is his man management, with the Ireland squad appearing to be quite a tight-knit group.

Ahead of the final day of Six Nations action on Saturday, RTÉ pundits Jamie Heaslip and Jerry Flannery hailed Farrell's "holistic" approach to the Ireland squad, and praised his decision to allow players' families to join the camp ahead of D-Day against England.

Jamie Heaslip and Jerry Flannery praise Andy Farrell's encouragement of players

Ireland's captain's run in the Aviva Stadium saw a wholesome exchange between Andy Farrell and his grandson Tommy, whose father Owen will captain England on Saturday evening.

Ireland Andy Farrell grandson

17 March 2023; Head coach Andy Farrell, with his grandson Tommy, during the Ireland rugby captain's run at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Tommy Farrell was not the only family member present, with players' families invited to attend the Captain's Run in Dublin ahead of Ireland's first Grand Slam shot in five years.

Speaking on RTÉ 2 ahead of Scotland's clash with Italy on Saturday afternoon, 2009 Grand Slam winners Jerry Flannery and Jamie Heaslip praised Farrell for creating a postitive environment in the camp, saying that it created a culture where players want to fight for one another.

Jamie Heaslip: This is one of the best teams in the world, that's important. They're all singing off the same hymn sheet. Andy's done an amazing job at creating this environment where they can all trust each other, and trust each other to be themselves and not have to fall in line with a certain way of thinking or acting. They can all be their own characters and bring out their best strengths on the field. They're not walking on eggshells. Previous environments if you didn't act or play in a certain way you probably didn't get picked or you were nervous. Andy's done an amazing job, all these guys are laughing, they're having fun. When you combine really good players with a really good coaching environment and a mindset to win, you hear Johnny [Sexton] saying 'this is where we want to be.' You have a group that are really liking it and enjoying it - that's a hard team to beat.

Jerry Flannery: Andy Farrell is obviously a brilliant technical coach, but when you go into a head role and you're not coaching the detail on the field as much as the assistants are...what he's done is foster a really connected environment. It's not just connected with the players, it's connected with the families. It's a really high pressure job being a professional rugby player and often it's the partners, the mums and dads that are the support network to keep that person grounded. To bring them in and incorporate them into the environment is a really holistic approach. From the lads I've talked to in the camp, there's never been a camp like that, never been an Irish camp where people go in and are encouraged to be themselves. You hear Andy Farrell saying so often 'go out there and be yourself.'

Ireland Andy Farrell Johnny Sexton

17 March 2023; Head coach Andy Farrell, left, and captain Jonathan Sexton during the Ireland rugby captain's run at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Flannery went on to say that Farrell's positive approach was what had enabled so many players to come in on short notice due to injuries and still perform to a high level.

Fellow 2009 Grand Slam winner Stephen Ferris was also in the RTÉ studio said that victory on Saturday evening could make this the greatest Irish team of all time, a sentiment echoed by Jerry Flannery.

Time will tell, but it's undeniable that Andy Farrell has done remarkable work with the Ireland team, who continue to build in a Rugby World Cup year. Fingers crossed.


SEE ALSO: Ireland U20s Taking Inspiration From Senior Team Ahead Of Grand Slam Decider

Ireland U20s Fintan Gunne Gus McCarthy

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