As Andy Farrell prepares his Ireland side for Sunday’s trip to Twickenham, he’s looked to bring in all the experience he can into the camp.
Former Irish captain Paul O’Connell has been with the set-up this week as the Irish prepare for their Triple Crown decider against England. The Limerick native wore the green jersey on 105 occasions, playing against England 13 times and winning eight of those meetings.
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“He’s been there and done that,” said Farrell, when asked what the former lock can bring to the table.
“He’s been to Twickenham a few times and he’s played some big games, so he knows what the boys are going through. You see a lot more of the boys gravitating towards him during the week, and that’s great to see.
“He [O’Connell] has been here all week. He’s here until Friday.
“We like it when people come into camp. We try and invite as many people as we possibly can. It’s not just Paul that’s been in camp this week, there’s a few other guys. We like people to try and take stock from the outside and get a feel, the feeling of how camp is.
“Paul is here to observe and come into all the meetings, share his experience along the way and try and connect with the boys.”
“Just having a guy like that with the presence he has and what he has done in the game is great to have around,” added Irish scrum-half Conor Murray.
“For the lads who don’t know him that well just to be able to sit down and have a chat with him and listen to him…just getting as much knowledge and information out of him as you can.”
We like it when people come into camp. We try and invite as many people as we possibly can.
Farrell is keen to keep things fresh
Farrell preparing his team in mysterious ways?
With Farrell striving to get a wide array of speakers into the camp, U2 frontman Bono even made an appearance on Tuesday night, to address the playing group and sing a few tunes.
“We were blown away really that he gave his time up to come over and see us,” the head coach said. “We invited him in, he was top of the wish list, which was unbelievable really.
“He put a lot of time and effort into it as well. He is quite a private person, but he put a lot of time and effort into being able to answer the questions from the floor in a great manner that we got something out of it.
“He is obviously a proud Irish man, so he talked a bit about Irishness.”
A huge thank you to Bono for being our guest last night. #U2 #BeOurGuest #TeamOfUs https://t.co/oHrX6ER05b
“It was just cool to hear him talk about his life experiences and how he views the world,” added Murray.
“You realise what he has done outside of music and in terms of charity and the people he has dealt with politically. He’s just a huge personality and it was unbelievable to hear him speak. Unbelievably intelligent and well articulated guy. It was just a really cool evening.”
So what was Farrell’s reasoning for inviting the music sensation into the camp?
“Faz wants to give us a sense of our identity,” explained Jacob Stockdale.
“He is doing that through our training but also through things like speaking to Bono and [Tuesday] night he talked about Irishness, what it means to be Irish and what’s special about it. That’s definitely something that Faz is bringing in and something we as a team are really buying in to. It is quite exciting.”
From an Irish perspective, the stakes could not be much bigger ahead of Sunday’s assignment. A Triple Crown success would put any lingering disappointment of the World Cup firmly to bed, and set up a championship tilt.
“We want to go there and win,” Farrell firmly noted. “We want to go there and perform, and do our best for Ireland. And that’s all that matters to us.
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