Andy Farrell says Ireland needs to develop a clinical edge to become a “world class” team after its worst start to a Six Nations campaign.
The Irish try to show some pride in the competition after disappointing defeats by Wales and France. Farrell maintains that the situation is far from dire and gloomy and the head coach hopes his side can take a huge step forward in Saturday’s match against multiple wooden spoon winners Italy.
“There’s a lot of right in our game, but it all comes down to having a clinical edge at this level, right above,” he said. “Our struggle and will and will to stand up against the opposition has been top notch.
“The only clinical edge is always the missing ingredient of any team that wants to be world class, so that’s what we’re striving for and hopefully we can make a leap in that direction this weekend.”
Farrell has made seven changes to the trip to Rome, with captain Johnny Sexton and vice-captain James Ryan recalling head injuries. Conor Murray is the only absent injury in the squad, meaning Jamison Gibson-Park remains at scrum half, with undefeated Munster No. 9 Craig Casey hoping to make his bench for the bench.
The return of the 35-year-old Sexton at fly-half sees Billy Burns back between the substitutes and Ross Byrne has completely disappeared. With question marks surrounding Sexton’s ability to play through to the 2023 World Cup, Farrell needs to develop suitable alternatives to jersey no. 10.
Munster flyhalf Joey Carbery, who has not played competitively since January 2020 due to a series of injury problems, has been appointed to his province’s bench for the Pro 14 clash with Cardiff on Friday. Farrell is happy with that news, but intends to be patient with the talented 25-year-old.
‘I’m absolutely happy for Joey. “I know first hand what he has been through the last few years and he has worked so hard to come back and on a few occasions it has not happened to him,” said Farrell. “What we need to be careful about is giving Joey time. He’s been around so long, he’s so eager to get back in there to do good. If you give him the room and the time, let him get a number of games under control, I’m sure Joey will return as the player we all know he will become. ”
Opponents Italy have lost 29 consecutive Six Nations institutions dating back to 2015 and are the only other team still to win in this year’s tournament.