Rugby

Best And O'Driscoll See Emergence Of Gameplan Under Andy Farrell

Best And O'Driscoll See Emergence Of Gameplan Under Andy Farrell

Former Ireland captains Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best both saw the emergence of an identity in the Ireland rugby team during Saturday's victory over England.

"With question [that was the best performance of the Andy Farrell era]," O'Driscoll told ITV.

"We'd been wondering what, ultimately, the gameplan was going to look like under Andy Farrell and Mike Catt.

"There's been aspects of it. Over an 80-minute performance, weathering England's early physicality for the first 10 or 15 minutes, and then counterpunching, creating a huge number of opportunities.

"We saw offloading, we saw tip-ons, footwork at the line. They used their kicking game as a weapon rather than as a shield. I was just super impressed. Their scramble defence was excellent.

"It was clear what Ireland's game plan was today. For the first time, it felt like they had multiple options with what they were trying to do.

"I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive performance. To get the respect of teams at this level, you've got to do that week on week. That's their next revolution."

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Rory Best added:

"They looked very comfortable in that system. I think you saw it mostly when England had periods of pressure. Ireland were able to build their way out.

"Ireland can kick on. This gives them confidence. They'd want a game next week but they're going to have to wait a period of time now.

"In 2017, there was a similar scenario. Ireland produced a similar performance. They were able to kick on, get that hunger and belief to go on and be better."

O'Driscoll believes that Andy Farrell is planning for Johnny Sexton to be his out-half at the 2023 World Cup.

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"We're all very ageist," O'Driscoll said regarding Sexton.

"As soon as somebody gets to their mid-30s, you're trying to find out who is next in line, for obvious reasons - there's concerns about his body holding up.

"Mentally, he's as strong as ever. He looks in the shape of his life, and he's playing great rugby.

"He's been banging the drum over the last few weeks, even when things haven't been going right, that the coaching ticket have them going in the right direction. As analysts and pundits, we were scratching our heads, wondering if that was the case. Having seen that 80-minute performance, those words are coming to fruition.

"He's a big part of what Andy Farrell is going to do in the next World Cup. There's no doubt at all. It's not a year-on-on-year contract, he's thinking about him for France 2023, undoubtedly."

Watch: Emotional CJ Stander Proved Just How Much Playing For Ireland Meant To Him

PJ Browne
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