Following a dismal World Cup campaign, the elevation of Farrell from assistant to head coach had been seen as the beginning of a new era in Irish rugby with former captain Rory Best and former head coach Joe Schmidt moving on.
But this team selection to take on the Scots is perhaps not the overhaul that some of the Irish public were hoping for as 13 of the 15 that started the World Cup pool win over Scotland in Yokohama are starting again, the retired Rory Best and the benched Peter O’Mahony the two alterations.
Only two uncapped players come into the match day squad, the highly-rated 21-year-old loose forward Caelan Doris, who starts at No8, as well as his Leinster teammate Ronan Kelleher, who is on the bench.
While there are some names to miss out on selection completely that were tipped to play, such as Jack O’Donoghue and Will Addison (even Stuart McCloskey), there are many players that are worthy of starting.
A few conservative out of form selections there. Murray, Stander & Aki lucky to be included.
— Michael Knowles (@nodknowles) January 28, 2020
New era, new coaches same old selection nonsense.
— Gav (@GavStew99) January 28, 2020
The front five more or less is set in stone, as is captain Jonathan Sexton’s place and his in-form Leinster team-mates Josh van der Flier, Garry Ringrose and Jordan Larmour.
While some think Farrell may have gone for fairly conservative options elsewhere with his selection, the priority will be winning at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday instead of looking ahead to the 2023 World Cup.
Basically the starting XV from the first rwc match v Scotland, without Best (retired) and O'Mahony. How dull. ? https://t.co/Oe9IBFJMi8
— Dearbhla Stapleton (@dervstapleton) January 28, 2020
Different coach, same selection nonsense
— Graeme Browne (@graeme247) January 28, 2020
And with that team naming all hopes of a New Era of Irish rugby under Andy Farrell just went up in flames. A token dropping of Munster Captain Peter O'Mahony to appease the masses is pathetic. Murray over Cooney, rushing Sexton back to be captain, Its a complete mess & Schmidtish
— Philip O'Reilly (@philthrill69) January 28, 2020
Although some players in the squad may not necessarily be in the form of their lives, many of them ruled over the rugby world in 2018, so a huge revolution was not necessarily needed this Six Nations despite it being what some hoped for.
The squad needs a change of direction and leadership more than making sweeping changes, and that is what Farrell has provided.
'His unchallenged message is that his squad is dynamic, powerful and aggressive with a lot of skill and speed, a nice soundbite if rah-rah soundbites are your thing twelve-and-a-half weeks on from World Cup crucifixion by the All Blacks,' writes @heagneyl
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 16, 2020
In what is the beginning of a new era in Ireland, Schmidt’s former defence coach has understandably chosen not to rock the boat too much.
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