Not picking John Cooney as Ireland’s starting scrum-half for the Six Nations opener would be a brave call for new head coach Andy Farrell, according to Brian O’Driscoll.

The Leinster and Ireland legend was speaking to Off The Ball on Friday and stated that Farrell does not have an opportunity to experiment in the upcoming tournament.

“He doesn’t have a freebie this Six Nations. This isn’t a, ‘You know what? Just try your best and see. This is a building phase.’ It’s nonsense. There's no such thing as a building phase in the Six Nations. It just doesn’t exist.

“Because there are finances for each position that you finish in the pool which has a negative or positive knock-on effect on the IRFU and on salaries and everything that comes with it.

“That’s why there’s such huge importance put onto Six Nations and strong finishes within it,” O’Driscoll said.

While Farrell must pick his strongest team against Scotland in a few weeks' time, the former Ireland captain felt that deciding to pick the incumbents would be a mistake.

“Andy Farrell can look at this in a few different ways. He’s definitely under pressure to pick a few in-form players and I’m intrigued to see what happens in that regard.

“Obviously the most talked about position is probably scrum-half. In some ways, it would be a brave call not to pick John Cooney because he’s been a stand-out performer in Europe.

“He knows the tried and tested through Lions tours and through huge success with Ireland what Conor Murray can deliver. But in reality, John Cooney is the form player that warrants selection. That first-up selection will be intriguing,” O’Driscoll said.

While Murray is unlikely to be happy with being dropped, the former Lions captain felt that it could spur on the Munster scrum-half to regain his best form.

“Particularly world-class players tend to do that. They tend to respond. Sometimes you do need a kick up the backside and have the reality check that it’s not just plain sailing for you. It’s not your number nine jersey, or whatever position.

“You don’t just come in and your opposition gets handed the bib and you’re in the team. That’s a bad environment to create. I think this is a great chance to change that up,” O’Driscoll commented.

The Six Nations kicks off with Wales facing Italy on February 1st before Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium later that day.

Everyone’s in the Team Of Us.

Vodafone. The Official Sponsor of the Irish Rugby Team.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


Read more about

Andy Farrell Brian O'Driscoll Conor Murray Ireland John Cooney Six Nations

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up in queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

OTB

OTB

Up next

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

07:00 AM-07:30 AM

Share

LIVE: OTB AM

LIVE: OTB AM

07:30 AM-09:30 AM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

09:30 AM-10:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Share

Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster - Season 2

Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster - Season 2

12:00 PM-01:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

01:00 PM-02:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

02:00 PM-05:00 PM

Share

OTB

OTB

05:00 PM-06:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

06:00 PM-07:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Newsround

LIVE: Newsround

07:00 PM-07:30 PM

Share

LIVE: Off The Ball

LIVE: Off The Ball

07:30 PM-09:00 PM

Share

LIVE: The Football Show

LIVE: The Football Show

09:00 PM-10:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Dadcast

LIVE: Dadcast

10:00 PM-11:00 PM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

11:00 PM-12:00 AM

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on