Six Nations: Johnny Sexton hails Andy Farrell’s influence on this Ireland side
Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton hailed the way head coach Andy Farrell has guided the side since taking on the role in 2019.
Farrell replaced Joe Schmidt after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has built a fantastic side who have won the Triple Crown in 2021 and last year became the first northern hemisphere team to win a three-match Test series against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
The world number one ranking came with the impressive series win, a mantle they have held since showing continued growth by beating France earlier this year.
Sexton praised how Farrell put together an environment conducive to elite performance.
“From the start he’s put a special environment together,” Sexton told BBC Sport.
“He’s one of the best – what sets him apart is his attention to detail, his philosophy on the game and how he manages to be himself.”
“It’s an atmosphere that’s been created by Andy – he’s very different to the last one [coach], which had some amazing things about it as well,” added Sexton.
“We won championships under Joe but Andy came in and put his own stamp on it and changed the way we play, changed the way we approach things, changed the way we lead and changed the way we talk to each other.
“It took a while and definitely took longer than expected, although Covid probably didn’t help that.
“Over the last 18 months it’s been a dream come true for someone who’s always dreamed of captaining Ireland and having success as an Irish captain. It’s been pretty special.
“I was lucky enough to work with him on Lions tours in 2013 and 2017 and then as assistant with Ireland. To be the life and soul of the party and still be head coach, to still be friends with people despite not picking them – it’s pretty unique.”
Meanwhile, former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan expects a tricky battle against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday and feels tactical nous will be key on the day.
“These games come down to one thing only, namely which team is able to impose its gameplan on the other team on the day,” O’Sullivan said.
“The tactics and the strategy on the day will be the defining factor.
“Ireland’s gameplan should involve playing very direct rugby, very direct runners taking them over the gain-line like they did against Wales.
“Their tactical kicking has to be really good too, smart kicking to the back-field and getting off the line to slow down the Scots. If they get fast ball into the hands of Finn Russell that can cause problems.”
READ MORE: Scotland v Ireland: Six Nations preview as the world’s best to show their class in tight Murrayfield battle
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