Andy Farrell laughs off Eddie Jones’s ‘intriguing’ mind games as England coach brings the noise
Andy Farrell has laughed off Eddie Jones’s attempts to throw his side off kilter this week, saying he doesn’t see any value in the England coach’s comments in the build-up to big games.
Earlier this week, the Australian was raining down compliments on the Irish set-up, labelling the visiting side as “red-hot favourites” and “the most cohesive team in the world”.
Yesterday, he changed tack by saying that his side will bring a level of physicality to tomorrow’s meeting that Ireland have not yet experienced.
As a player, Farrell captained Saracens when Jones was head coach and he is a big admirer of the Australian’s work.
However, he dismissed his opponent’s mind games after naming his team yesterday.
“I love Eddie’s comments. I love reading them. I think it’s great for the game. I love his character and charisma, I’ve learned a lot off him,” he said.
“I’ve worked under him. I’ve been a captain of a side for him. I’ve been in his company etc, but in answer to your question, I don’t see the need (to engage). I don’t see the need. I don’t get it sometimes, but I like reading it. I think it’s intriguing.”
Jones clearly sees an advantage in the pre-match build-up and he managed to get under the skin of Farrell’s predecessor Joe Schmidt from time to time.
However, Farrell does not believe the mind games have any influence on what happens between the white lines.
“Not at this level, no,” he said.
Both coaches named their teams yesterday, with Farrell opting to restore Hugo Keenan to the back-three, as Andrew Conway and James Lowe got the nod ahead of Mack Hansen on the wings.
Bundee Aki partners Garry Ringrose in midfield, as Robbie Henshaw makes do with a place on the bench alongside Joey Carbery, who makes way for Johnny Sexton.
Up front, Cian Healy comes into the side for the injured Andrew Porter, while James Ryan returns and Peter O’Mahony keeps his place on the blindside of the scrum as Jack Conan remains on the bench.
“Ireland know it’s going to be a physical game, they haven’t played against South Africa since 2017,” Jones said after pairing Joe Marchant with Henry Slade in midfield and picking a back-row of Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry and Sam Simmonds.
“We’re going to bring a level of physicality they’re not used to. O’Mahony’s pretty good in that area, he’s a guy that they tend to pick against us. He doesn’t tend to start against too many other countries but England. He’s a good man for the job and we’ve got to be good enough to outmatch him.”
Ireland have lost on their last three visits to Twickenham and suffered defeat in Paris on their last away trip.
With their Triple Crown and title hopes on the line, Farrell wants his team to avoid getting sucked into playing England’s game – even if things don’t go their way early on.
“You can always plan for a good start, but the opposition have something to say about that,” he said.
“It’s making sure that you don’t go into your shell because things do happen like that.
“We’ve been to Twickenham before and as you know that has happened to us. On a couple of occasions ago we were told that they could have declared at half-time with the performance that they had and they played very well that day so there’s lessons we need to learn and make sure that we address them ourselves.”
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