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Rugby

Andy Farrell must avoid Schmidt's mistake and pick on form | Alan Quinlan

As Ireland look to put the disappointment of 2019 behind them, Alan Quinlan expects incoming head coach Andy Farrell to adopt a more ruthless approach to squad selection. 

By his own admission in an interview with Off the Ball, Joe Schmidt conceded that a certain preference for players who had once served him well may have ill-informed his selection policy in what was a difficult final year to his Irish tenure.

With the exceptional successes of 2018 failing to cross over into the significantly more important year that followed, Schmidt's is a mistake that Alan Quinlan believes Andy Farrell cannot afford to replicate.

"He has to re-energise the team a little bit," insisted Quinlan. "It's not a bad thing if someone's form drops off and they have to go and prove themselves again.

"I think his mindset [will be different], and while you can't just cast guys aside because they've had a bad couple of months, or their form hasn't been exceptional, I think we're at the stage now where you have to pick players on form."

Two of the outstanding talents as Ireland defeated all before them in Schmidt's penultimate year, the international futures of Johnny Sexton (34) and Conor Murray (30) will come under increasing scrutiny.

"In 2018 they were exceptional," outlined Quinlan, "the driving force behind the team's success.

"Players like Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, we're used to them giving big performances. For big wins with Leinster, Munster and Ireland, you're always picking out where Sexton was brilliant, Murray was brilliant, when they win.

"We haven't seen that consistently enough in the last 12 months, though, and if one of those guys is selected again under Andy Farrell and doesn't play well, it just starts everything on a negative."

Although it remains to be seen what approach Andy Farrell will adopt to leading Ireland forward, eradicating the disappointment of the year just gone will be of the utmost importance.

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Alan Quinlan Andy Farrell Conor Murray Irish Rugby Johnny Sexton

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