There has been a noticeable change in how the Irish training camps operate since Andy Farrell has taken over as head coach, according to Ruaidhri O’Connor.
The Irish Independent rugby correspondent was on Tuesday’s Off The Ball live from the training camp in Portugal and commented on the new atmosphere around the camp.
“There’s just a different vibe around it this week and I suppose that’s always going to be the case when there’s a new coach. Even if he was part of the old regime, as well as a couple of his assistants.
“Lil Nas X was blaring out of speakers beside training when they were doing their warm-ups today. I don’t think there was ever music before training in the old regime.
“They were throwing AFL balls, sliotars and footballs around. There is a bit of a sense of fun that maybe wasn’t there before. But obviously that goes out the window if they lose this weekend to Scotland,” O’Connor said.
Ireland’s last fixture ended in a crushing defeat to the All Blacks in the World Cup and the training sessions leading up to that came also had a relaxed atmosphere.
While a happy team often results in a winning team, O’Connor did warn not to read too much into the relaxed nature of the players.
“It’s all speculation as to what’s going on behind the scenes. Because I do remember that everything was really positive in the week before we got hammered by New Zealand at the World Cup.
“We almost got convinced that they were on the right track. So you can read too much into that sort of stuff,” O’Connor commented.
Positive changes in the back row
However, there are plenty of positives to take from the team selection which includes a couple of notable changes, especially in the back row.
“There is the sense from talking to players today after the team was named that they are trying to move things on a little bit. I think that the selection, although it’s not groundbreaking across the board [is good].
“I do think their back row with Doris at eight and Stander moving to six - Doris is more of a footballer and more of a heads up player. Stander tends to run into brick walls a lot.
Doris, it’s his first cap so we can’t expect too much. But I think we’re going to see Doris in that jersey for the next decade pretty much. He is that footballing number eight in the mould of Kieran Reid or Jamie Heaslip,” O’Connor said.
Ireland begin their time under Andy Farrell this Saturday when they come up against Scotland at 4.45pm at the Aviva Stadium.
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