Ireland are looking to ramp-up their efforts in 2021 following an inconsistent first calendar year with Andy Farrell at the helm by adding former Lions skipper Paul O’Connell to their coaching ticket as forwards coach.
Farrell’s Ireland struggled for consistency throughout 2020, winning their home games in Dublin but losing meekly on the road in England (twice) and France. With that in mind, they have opted to bring in O’Connell, who has been inactive since finishing a year at Stade Francais in 2019.
His inclusion will see current forwards coach Simon Easterby, a former Lions and Ireland teammate of O’Connell, switch to focus fully on coaching the defence.
Farrell said: “Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the lineout working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.
“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past twelve months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 3, 2021
O’Connell added: “I’m really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”
IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now