Alan Quinlan assesses impact of "shock" Andy Farrell addition

Former Ireland and Munster back-row and Gerry Thornley react on Off The Ball

Alan Quinlan admits he was shocked by the announcement that former England defence coach Andy Farrell will be joining Joe Schmidt's Ireland coaching staff on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old former international will link up with Ireland after the Six Nations on a deal which will take him through to 2019.

Quinlan and rugby correspondent for The Irish Times Gerry Thornley joined Off The Ball tonight to assess the impact of Farrell joining the back room team, and the former Munster and Ireland back-row says he was taken by surprise.

"I think it's a shock but I think it's a decent appointment. There's not many people jumping out there," said Quinlan.

He added that "I think you'd obviously love to see an Irish coach," but also surmised that there are few leading candidates at present for such an important role.

As for Farrell's impact once he is in situ, especially with question marks over the entire coaching team in England's recent World Cup exit on home soil, Quinlan expects him to learn from that. 

"I've no doubt about it. He was heavily involved in the Sam Burgess decision, but you learn from those kind of things. Defensive coaches will normally try to pick the bigger, more physical, stronger man and that's not always the best defender. Defence is about being shrewd, connecting to the guy inside and outside you. Look at [Brian O'Driscoll], look at [Gordon] D'Arcy. They were outstanding defenders because they just stayed connected together and in phase play, so let's hope he doesn't come in and say 'you've got to pick a load of big guys' to have a strong defence."     

Quinlan and Thornley also talked about the Ireland captaincy, as speculation mounts about who will replace the retired Paul O'Connell, including the recent debate generated in some sections of the press about Jamie Heaslip's relationship with the media.