Andy Farrell: Ireland coach says fringe players in contention for series decider against All Blacks

David Skippers

After his midweek team sealed a deserved 30-24 victory over the Maori All Blacks in Wellington on Tuesday, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes there is plenty to ponder when he selects his matchday squad for Saturday’s series-deciding Test against New Zealand.

Farrell admitted that several of his fringe players have staked strong claims to be involved when they face the All Blacks at Wellington’s Sky Stadium.

Outside back Jordan Larmour impressed with a brace of tries against the Maori All Blacks while back-row duo Nick Timoney and Gavin Coombes also crossed for five-pointers and fly-half Ciaran Frawley finished with a 10-point haul after slotting two conversions and two penalties.

Selection headache

Since Farrell became Ireland‘s head coach in 2020, he has been consistent in his selections but will have to think long and hard before naming his matchday squad for their third Test against New Zealand.

“There are a lot of lads that have put their hands up,” said Farrell, who saw an experimental side suffer a 32-17 defeat to the Maoris in their tour opener just under two weeks ago.

“We’ve seen people grow massively, not just as rugby players but as people, coming out of themselves within the group which is massive for us for next year.

“I was more pleased with the team performance (than individuals) because the obvious thing to learn from the first game was that some lads were pretty desperate to show everything they’ve got and they (now) understand that it’s always got to be team first and not just disciplined with the referee but disciplined in how we play the game.

“Our discipline was pretty poor in that first game and got a bit desperate at times.

“They’ve learnt a lot because it was pretty brutal out there, the conditions, it was swirling everywhere and for a young side to be able to manage their way through a game when things aren’t going right the whole time, I thought was tremendous.

“I thought they managed the game as a whole superbly well.”

After sealing back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Maori All Blacks respectively, Farrell revealed that confidence is high in Ireland’s camp ahead of the final Test against the All Blacks and urged his peripheral squad members to keep themselves in Test contention in future.

In good spirits

“The mood’s good,” he said. “It helps when you win a Test match obviously but the mood still would have been great anyway.

“If the boys had lost tonight, we’d have learnt and pushed forward, it’s about growing the group as we’ve talked about non-stop on this tour.

“These boys have been dying for a game for the last 13 days and for it to finally come around and them to improve and get a big W on the board is very pleasing for them going forward.

“It’s up to them and their hunger. They know what it’s all about now, they know what’s expected of them so over to them.”

READ MORE: July internationals: Ireland bounce back with deserved win over Maori All Blacks