Andy Farrell: Average is not acceptable against Wales

By Brendan O’Brien

Andy Farrell has set the tone for Ireland’s meeting with Wales this Saturday by labelling the side’s last quarter performance against Italy as unacceptable.

Joe Schmidt’s side filleted Italy during the first-half of their round two Six Nations meeting in Dublin two weekends ago but failed to maintain those standards for the 80 minutes in a game they won 56-19.

The concession of three Italian tries after the interval took the sheen of what had come before. It is a failure that could prove costly on the final table next month and it has clearly infuriated the Irish brains trust.

“I was concerned after the game because I was fuming,” said Farrell who is Schmidt’s defense coach. “Look, all you can be is honest. The plan going into the Italy game was that we needed to go after Italy with the ball and show good intent without the ball: show some good intent in our linespeed, our hunger and our physicality in defence.

“At 40-0, I thought we were doing that pretty well. For example, we want to score tries from the mistakes that we force through our defensive pressure and within that first three-quarters of the game four of the eight tries came from the pressure that we forced on them and that was pretty pleasing.

“But the last quarter wasn't acceptable, because average is not acceptable in this environment. We need to be more ruthless than that and learn to play even when the scoreboard is in our favour, to be ruthless.

“The players know that. There are some young lads who haven't got vast amounts of experience and might have been getting carried away with themselves a little bit but to knock off ... you can talk about any technicality you want but to have a lack of intent in that last quarter was not acceptable.”

Schmidt names his side for the encounter on Thursday lunchtime and it remains to be seen which, if any, of Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose are deemed fit enough to start.

“He's hitting his markers and he's training well. He's not been in full training, he's been doing a bit-part of stuff and we'll make a decision on that Wednesday night, Thursday,” said Farrell of Furlong who is looking to overcome a hamstring injury.

Ryan, he added, is fully fit after recent groin trouble while Henderson is a wait-and-see in much the same way as Furlong though he has also taken some part in training.

There will be no risks taken on selection, said the Englishman.

Ringrose would appear to be the riskiest of that quartet given he hasn’t played in seven weeks since injuring an ankle but the Leinster centre impressed on his first day back training with the Ireland squad on Tuesday.

“He's looking great,” said Farrell. “I actually said to him, 'Have you put a bit of weight on?' He's looking in great nick. It's good to have him back. He cut us open a few times in training like he normally does.

“He's short of game time, obviously, but he's a class player and he slotted straight back in today.”

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