Alan Quinlan says Andy Farrell is on his way to becoming the Jack Charlton of Irish rugby

Former Ireland and Munster back-row Alan Quinlan has said head coach Andy Farrell is becoming the Jack Charlton of Irish rugby.

Ireland go into this weekend’s game away to England in the search of a second consecutive Grand Slam, something that has never been achieved by Ireland.

Under Farrell, Ireland have won a Grand Slam in 2023, a triple crown in 2022, and a series win in New Zealand.

In the most successful era of Irish rugby, Quinlan has compared it to the achievements of the football team under Jack Charlton in the 90s.

“Jack was incredible for Irish football. He had a huge impact on football here. But Andy won’t mind me saying this but we would have needed to get to a World Cup semi-final for him to attain Jackie Charlton status. But he may be heading that way!

There is no reason why he won’t. He is doing a top job and is appreciated not just by his players, but by people at large who see a player who was as hard as nails and so likeable.”

Ireland will go into Saturday’s game as favourites, but will face a tough test from an English side who will be eager to bounce back from their loss to Scotland.

Hoping to stop Ireland in their tracks will be former Ireland full-back Felix Jones, who is England’s defence coach, and was part of the South Africa coaching staff in their World Cup triumph.

One standout feature of England’s games so far is their aggressive defensive approach, which was seen in their wins over Italy and Wales.

Despite this, Quinlan is backing Ireland to adapt, and encourages Farrell’s side to kick more to get in behind the English defence.

“They are pretty good at adapting to all situations. They will be very mindful of the physical confrontational approach England will bring. With Felix Jones now being part of the England set up, they will be mindful of the very aggressive blitz defence.

“Ireland will have to be careful. I wouldn’t change what their big strengths are: fitness, continuity, skillset and their ability to go from one touchline to another and find space.

“The one thing they should look to do is kick a little bit more and get into the English half and push them back. They should also have some close in carries early on, but I think Ireland will back themselves.”

In what has been a competitive fixture in years gone by, Quinlan expects Ireland to come out on top in Twickenham, setting Ireland up for a Grand Slam finish on St Patrick’s Weekend.

“When you look at the last three Six Nations games, Ireland have won by 13-16 points. The spread is 12 points and I think that’s pretty accurate.

“England will cause them problems but my fear for England is that they should be mindful that if this Ireland team changes gears, they can be very dangerous. If Ireland have that ruthless edge at Twickenham it could be a very long day for England but my prediction is Ireland to win in a close run game by 8 to 10 points.”


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