Doubt cast over Andy Farrell's mooted Lions call
Doubt has been cast over Ireland head coach Andy Farrell potentially joining up with the British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa after dispensing with his nation’s relatively short summer schedule. Ireland are set to respectively play the USA and Japan on July 3 and 10, theoretically freeing Farrell up to join Warren Gatland’s Lions squad.
The Irish had originally been set for a tour of Fiji, a plan that ruled Farrell out from consideration by Gatland before he unveiled his coaching ticket in early April. That tour to the Pacific Islands was eventually scrapped however and reports emerged this week to suggest that Farrell was now a shoo-in to join the Lions tour after the IRFU appeared to give him the green light to link up with Gatland’s squad should he be asked.
Gatland had suggested there was a spot possibly left open for Farrell, who was part of the coaching ticket as defence coach on both the 2013 and 2017 tours. “Yeah, it’s possible. It’s why we have left one of the spots open,” said Gatland in April.
“Whoever it is, do we feel like we need someone else to come in, is it at the start of the tour, during the tour, before the Test matches take place? I haven’t been specific about a role but it’s something I want to have the possibility of being able to do if we feel there’s a need for it.”
Steve Tandy was named as Gatland’s defence coach, suggesting that whatever role Farrell took up, it could be markedly different from his previous involvements with the famous touring side. Should Farrell take up a role, it would mean he would be parachuted into the Lions set-up less than two weeks prior to the first Test in Cape Town on July 24 and a full month after the team hold their first island training session on Jersey.
The Telegraph are reporting that Farrell is understandably reluctant to interfere with Gatland’s side and that the Wigan man hasn’t spoken with Gatland in a number of weeks on the matter. When quizzed about his involvement back in March, Farrell said: “Like I’ve always said – and it’s the truth – I will always do the right thing for Irish rugby.”
There is yet to be mention of Farrell’s involvement on either the official British and Irish Lions or Irish Rugby website. The Lions will play Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday, June 26, in front of a crowd of 16,500 supporters.
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