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Eddie O'Sullivan Explains Why Andy Farrell's Impact On Ireland Is 'Overrated'

Eddie O'Sullivan Explains Why Andy Farrell's Impact On Ireland Is 'Overrated'

Former Ireland rugby head coach Eddie O'Sullivan explained why Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell's impact on Ireland is in his view "overrated" on 'Off the Ball' tonight.

O'Sullivan appeared on 'Off the Ball' after a weekend in which Ireland beat Australia and brought down the curtain on a year which also included a quite sensational victory over South Africa in June and a first ever win over New Zealand in Chicago on November 5th.

O'Sullivan gave a detailed account of how Ireland have progressed, including their "really exceptional" ability to finish games off, explained why Paddy Jackson will always get the nod ahead of Joey Carbery and praised Ireland's "world-class" lineout and excellent scrum.

But interestingly O'Sullivan wasn't quick to dish out praise for Ireland's defensive qualities under former England coach Andy Farrell, appointed before the summer tour to South Africa.

There was audible surprise from presenter Joe Molloy when O'Sullivan gave his response to the question of how he rated Farrell's impact on Ireland's defensive performance.

I think it's overrated, to be honest. I think the big take from our defence during the autumn has been (that) our discipline has been extraordinary.

The idea we have conceded a grand total of eleven penalties in three matches, and the opposition have conceded forty-one, is phenomenal. But our defence per se is not particularly good...our tackle rate is just barely over 80% over the three matches, that's really worrying. Plus the fact teams are scoring in excess of three tries a match.

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And O'Sullivan went on to outline how Ireland could suffer in the Six Nations next year if they don't tighten up their defensive performances.

We're measuring ourselves against Australia and New Zealand but they're scoring in excess of three tries a match against us, with 40% possession and 40% territory.

What if we go into the Six Nations and teams get 50% possession and 50% territory and they don't give up 15 penalties. So they've a lot more ball, a lot more territory. And how do we score two to three tries a game with less possession and less territory?

We're still making poor decisions defensively at times. We're not making poor decisions in terms of discipline, we're incredibly disciplined. And that's fantastic. If you know you're not going to give up five or six penalties a game that's a huge advantage defensively in particular.

But if you look at Kuridrani's try at the weekend, it's a schoolboy error. We had five defenders on the left hand side of the ruck against two Australian attackers and they had a walk-in...that's pretty poor.

We gave up three tries in eleven minutes against New Zealand, gave up four last week, three this week. We're leaking tries against teams with 40% possession.

I don't think that's great defence by any metric.

You can listen to the full discussion on 'Off the Ball', also featuring Gavin Cummiskey and Andy Dunne, here.

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Conall Cahill

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