DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland coach Andy Farrell said his side are brimming with confidence ahead of their match with Grand Slam holders Wales after launching their Six Nations campaign with victory against Scotland.
The 44-year-old Englishman oversaw an edgy 19-12 win in his first match in charge since replacing Joe Schmidt at the weekend.
“They can’t wait to get back on the pitch,” Farrell said at Ireland’s training base on Tuesday. “We are in a good place. We are brimming with confidence for what we know will be a really tough game. We know they are Grand Slam champions and World Cup semi-finalists. We know what is coming but we are excited for what is coming.”
The former England rugby league and union international said Ireland could be more clinical in attack and improve their decision-making as he prepares them to face Wales, who began their campaign under new boss Wayne Pivac with a 42-0 thumping of Italy.
Farrell said he did not believe Scotland had been given the credit they deserved.
“I have not seen them play as well for a long time, they were ferocious,” he said. “We have to manage that type of situation this weekend.”
Farrell has kept changes to a minimum. Caelan Doris will miss the game because of a head injury, with Peter O’Mahony recalled to the starting line-up.
The Ireland boss said the performance of veteran O’Mahony, who came on early for Doris against Scotland, meant he had few qualms about starting the 30-year-old.
“I thought he did really well when he came off the bench,” he said. “I thought he had been outstanding all week in training and it rolled over into his performance.”
Farrell’s other change to his starting XV for the visit of Pivac’s men is to bring in Robbie Henshaw at outside centre in place of the injured Garry Ringrose.
Ringrose was taken off at half-time against the Scots with a hand problem and has also been ruled out of Ireland’s trip to face England at Twickenham later this month.
Leinster back-row Max Deegan could make his debut from the bench, while wing Keith Earls is also included among the replacements.
“We think he (Deegan) has all the attributes of a great back rower,” said Farrell. “We feel he is ready. He has ball-playing abilities, his awareness coming onto ball, nice soft hands.”
With Doris unavailable for Saturday’s match in Dublin, CJ Stander switches to replace him in the number-eight position, with the experienced O’Mahony coming in to win his 66th cap at blindside flanker.