Far­rell: We have to give Best and Sch­midt a fitting farewell

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Tom Cary

Ire­land de­fence coach Andy Far­rell says the team are des­per­ate to give Joe Sch­midt and Rory Best a farewell to be proud of against Wales at the Aviva Sta­dium to­mor­row.

Like Wales, Ire­land have named vir­tu­ally a full-strength line-up for their fi­nal World Cup warm-up fix­ture, with Johnny Sex­ton re­turn­ing to take his place at fly-half. Keith Earls and Rob­bie Hen­shaw also re­turn in the backs as Ire­land look to take a bit of mo­men­tum with them out to Ja­pan.

Far­rell said the match would have ex­tra sig­nif­i­cance for Ire­land’s play­ers, given it would be the last time that head coach Sch­midt and cap­tain Best took charge of the team on home soil. “It is our last game be­fore we get on the plane [to Ja­pan] on Wed­nes­day,” Far­rell said. “We’re af­ter a per­for­mance that we’re proud of. There’s an ex­tra rea­son for that – Rory’s last game at the Aviva, and Joe’s as well.

“The im­por­tant thing is we put the per­for­mance in, the co­he­sive per­for­mance and the right men­tal at­ti­tude to take for­ward into two weeks and the start of the World Cup against Scot­land [on Sept 22].”

Ire­land, who named their fi­nal 31-man squad on Monday, will have nine British and Ir­ish Li­ons on the field. Sex­ton’s in­volve­ment – for the first time in this se­ries of warm-up fix­tures – was ex­pected. But it is still a state­ment of in­tent.

Af­ter their des­per­ate 57-15 de­feat by Eng­land at Twick­en­ham last month, Ire­land fans will be hop­ing the re­turn of their play­maker and tal­is­man gives their team greater con­trol and cre­ativ­ity, while also

High ex­pec­ta­tions: Andy Far­rell wants Ire­land to make a state­ment of in­tent against Wales cross­ing their fin­gers and toes that he comes through un­scathed.

Earls and Hen­shaw also make their re­turns from in­jury, with Far­rell promis­ing the for­mer was back to his best. “He’s fine,” Far­rell said of the Mun­ster winger. “Keith hit his high­est speed score to­day as he was go­ing to score a try in the cor­ner which de­lighted us all.”

Jacob Stock­dale has been rested fol­low­ing his brace in Ire­land’s win over a B-string Wales the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium last week­end, with Earls start­ing on the left wing and Jordan Lar­mour the right. Hen­shaw slots in at 13 out­side Bundee In the for­wards, Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Fur­long form an all-star front row, while James Ryan and Jean Kleyn – the new­lyqual­i­fied South Africa-born lock whose se­lec­tion ahead of Devin Toner raised eye­brows this week – are paired in the se­cond row.

It is the back row, though, that fea­tures Ire­land’s most in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion call. Af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing with Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’ma­hony at six and seven last week­end, this time Sch­midt has named CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier on ei­ther side of the scrum with Jack Co­nan re­tain­ing his place at No8 fol­low­ing his strong show­ing in Cardiff last week­end when Ire­land’s mix-and-match team beat Wales’s re­serves.

Far­rell, who will take over from Sch­midt post-world Cup, also con­firmed there were no new in­juries to the 31 in camp, with re­serve fly­half Joey Car­bery con­tin­u­ing his an­kle re­hab.

Best said it was be­gin­ning to dawn on him it was his last game at the Aviva Sta­dium af­ter an in­ci­dent fol­low­ing train­ing at Car­ton House yes­ter­day morn­ing. “There [were] a few of the same faces that greet us com­ing off the train­ing pitch,” he said. “One woman, she was in tears and say­ing it was the last time I would walk off [that pitch].”

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