Andy Farrell gave away few if any clues when answering the question most Ireland fans want answered ahead of their Six Nations opening versus Scotland – just who will wear the No9 jersey on February 1?


Conor Murray had been the long-term first-choice scrum-half under former Irish boss Joe Schmidt. 

However, while a campaign has built steadily over the winter for the inclusion of in-form Ulster player John Cooney, new boss Andy Farrell kept his cards close to his chest at the Six Nations launch in London before flying out for a week’s warm-weather camp in Portugal ahead of his team’s tournament opener in Dublin.

“We’re in a great place, not just in scrum-half but in many positions,” he said. “I believe all 36 are in good form. Yeah, competition for places at scrum-half is obviously at a premium as well. 

“There is a lot of people being asked a lot of questions about John Cooney today and he is playing really well. He is really confident and he is loving his rugby at this moment of time. 

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New Ireland captain Johnny Sexton speaks about the 2020 Six Nations

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“But we picked five scrum-halves in the camp just before Christmas and Caolin Blade and Jamison (Gibson-Park) were very unlucky to miss out on this squad because they were playing good rugby as well. 

“At the same time Luke McGrath got man of the match at the weekend, Conor Murray got man of the match at the weekend and as I said, a big thing for us driving forward has got to be competition for places – and that is certainly one of those positions.” 

WATCH: Andy Goode and Brendan Venter didn’t hold back on this week’s The Rugby Pod as they discussed Saracens and the ongoing salary cap scandal that has gripped English rugby. 

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