Andy Farrell: There’s no better time to be an Irish rugby player

Andy Farrell believes “there’s no better time to be an Irish rugby player” ahead of Ireland’s tantalising Dublin showdown with world champions South Africa.

Farrell’s in-form side have risen to the top of the world rankings on the back of their stunning summer series win in New Zealand and face another stern test against the physical Springboks.

Saturday’s Test match at the Aviva Stadium follows Friday evening’s clash between an Ireland A team and an All Blacks XV at the RDS Arena.

“Honestly it doesn’t really get any bigger,” said head coach Farrell. “I have said this to the players.

“This is called living properly, there’s no better time to be an Irish rugby player.

“Meeting a New Zealand XV on Friday night and performing for the group and then backing it up the next day with the other lads, it doesn’t really get any better.

“When the Springboks are in town, everyone gets super excited.

Ireland have not faced South Africa since a 38-3 win in Dublin five years ago
Ireland have not faced South Africa since a 38-3 win in Dublin five years ago (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We know what’s coming, everyone else knows what’s coming, which is why everyone is super excited. There is no doubt there is going to be an extra edge on Saturday night.”

Ireland have won 14 of their last 16 Test matches going into the autumn campaign, which also includes appointments with Fiji and Australia.

Farrell initially made three personnel changes from the series-clinching win over the All Blacks, handing scrum-half Conor Murray a start on the occasion of his 100th cap, while centre Garry Ringrose and wing Robert Baloucoune came in for the suspended Bundee Aki and the injured James Lowe.

The Englishman was later forced into a fourth alteration, with Stuart McCloskey stepping in at inside centre due to Robbie Henshaw suffering a hamstring issue.

Ireland have not locked horns with the Springboks since a 38-3 home win in 2017 but will not have to wait so long for the next meeting as the countries have been drawn together in the pool stage of the 2023 World Cup.

While Farrell is eager to claim another headline-grabbing victory, he suggested defeat may prove more beneficial in the long term.

“The lessons learned are going to be vast for both sides, win or lose,” he said.

“I suppose the team that loses will learn a little bit more and know which direction they want to go, not just game plan-wise but player-wise. That’s why I think this is priceless for both teams as a match-up.

“It’s exciting for what’s down the line but in the here and now it is good as well.”