No hard feelings for Ireland’s Andy Farrell as he bids to upset England’s ‘wise’ man Eddie Jones
Farrell was dismissed from his position as England defence coach in late 2015 shortly after Jones was appointed following the resignation of Stuart Lancaster.
The pair are set to go head-to-head on Sunday when Ireland clash with England at Twickenham.
Farrell rejected Jones’s advances to lure him back into the England management set-up two years ago but admits there are no hard feelings and he enjoys picking the Australian’s brain.
“My honest opinion on that, I don’t think it was my job anyway,” Farrell said of being released by Jones just over four years ago.
“I worked for Stuart and Stuart had left and I would have done exactly the same if I was Eddie.
“He’s certainly a very wise coach, he’s been through a hell of a lot.
“He’s had some awesome experiences and I’ve always enjoyed going for a coffee with Eddie and talking through those experiences.
“He loves talking about rugby and so do I, and I like to try and tap into those experiences that he’s been through.”
Farrell’s England departure came after Lancaster’s team were eliminated at the end of the pool stage during a dismal World Cup campaign on home soil.
The 44-year-old has since rebuilt his coaching career with Ireland, working as part of Joe Schmidt’s backroom staff from 2016 until he stepped up to the main job after last year’s World Cup.
Asked about his decision to snub Jones’s approach in 2018 with a view to replacing Paul Gustard, Farrell replied: “He asked the question and I had a good job anyway, so that was that.”
Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade, meanwhile, are winning their fitness battles as England aim to build momentum in their Six Nations title quest.
The outside centres have been recovering from respective groin and ankle injuries and are on course to be available for Sunday’s encounter.
Tuilagi suffered a minor strain in the opening quarter against France in round one and sat out the Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland, with Jonathan Joseph deputising in his absence.
Slade, meanwhile, has not appeared since damaging his ankle in December but was involved in yesterday morning’s training session at England’s Surrey training base.
In an indication that the duo are close to making their comebacks, they were retained in a reduced 27-man training squad after six players were dispatched back to their clubs. Sufficient cover has been retained in case either suffers an injury setback over the coming days with Jones set to name his team tomorrow.
“Manu trained fully so should be in contention for selection,” said head coach Jones. “It’s good to have a quality player back.
“Slade also trained so we have just got to monitor his progress. He has a positive chance. He’s a quality player. This gives gives us more options.”