‘Hopefully I’m not too far off’: Connacht’s Farrell on training with Ireland

FRESH FROM TRAINING with Joe Schmidt’s Ireland for the first time, Tom Farrell is keen to continue his rise through the ranks by helping Connacht to victory against the Southern Kings in South Africa tomorrow afternoon [KO 1pm Irish time, eir Sport].

Farrell was called into Carton House to assist in Ireland’s preparation to face New Zealand and he says that invite has given him the encouragement to continue in the same vein for Andy Friend’s side.

Farrell pictured in South Africa this week. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The stats point to Farrell being Ireland’s top centre in the Pro14 for defenders beaten (21), offloads (14) and tries scored (2) and he says he was thrilled to get the chance to show Schmidt and his management his talents up close.

“It was brilliant. It was only training and I wasn’t going to be involved in any of the match-day squads, but it was great to be there to thereabouts. Just to be in the environment, get my foot in the door was great. Hopefully I can take some lessons from it,” said 25-year-old Farrell.

“You’re not given any playbook, you are thrown in there and you have to sink or swim. You have to be proactive, find the information and sit lads down. I was only in for a couple of days so I didn’t have time to sit down and be quiet, so I had to be go after boys and get up to speed.

Farrell is paired with Australian international Kyle Godwin in the centre for their first game on tour in Port Elizabeth, while Matt Healy returns to the left wing following his recent injury problems.

Captain Jarrad Butler is named at number eight, with Paul Boyle – who this week signed a new two-and-a-half year deal – providing the back row cover from the bench.

There is also a place for prop Dominic Robertson McCoy on the bench for the first time following his six-week suspension for stamping on Josh van der Flier.

Connacht enter the game on a high following their bonus-point victory over Dragons last time out, and with a 32-10 victory over Kings last season — Farrell scored a try that day — the centre is hopeful of another win.

Farrell, David Horwitz and Robin Copeland in Port Elizabeth. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The Dragons win was huge for us, we needed a big performance after losing in Ospreys. We let ourselves down in that game and that meant we had to deliver against Dragons. The bonus point has us in a good place heading into this block of two games in South Africa.

“Looking at the Kings they are a very different beast when they play at home. They picked up a good result against Glasgow a few weeks ago and also put it up to Leinster.

“They have some serious athletes and some dangerous broken field runners. When we get into our defensive system we have to stick together and not let their individuals take control.”

Southern Kings:

15. Banda Masixole
14. Makase Michael
13. Klaasen Harlon
12. Klaasen Berton
11. Penxe Yaw
10. Du Toit Martin
9. Ungerer Stefan

1. Mguca Lupumlo
2. Van Rooyen Alandre
3. Oosthuizen Nicolaas
4. Greeff Stephan
5. Astle John-Charles (captain)
6. Velleman Cyril-John
7. Van Vuuren Jurie
8. Lerm Ruaan

Replacements:

16. Balekile Tango
17. Tshakweni Alulutho
18. Pupuma Luvuyo
19. Van Schalkwyk Andries
20. Burger Martinus
21. Masimla Godlen
22. Dukisa Ntabeni
23. Kruger Tertius

Connacht:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Kyle Godwin
12. Tom Farrell
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

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1. Denis Buckley
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Conor Carey
4. Ultan Dillane
5. James Cannon
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Colby Fainga’a
8. Jarrad Butler (captain)

Replacements:

16. Tom McCartney
17. Peter McCabe
18. Dominic Robertson McCoy
19. Gavin Thornbury
20. Paul Boyle
21. James Mitchell
22. David Horwitz
23. Darragh Leader.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU).

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