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Why new Lions coach is confident Wallabies will 'get it right' as 'huge moment' for Australia nears

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11th January, 2024
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British and Irish Lions coach Andy Farrell is confident the Wallabies will overcome their woes and “get it right” in time for the 2025 tour which he believes will be “huge” for Australian sport.

Englishman Farrell, who’s overseen Ireland’s path to the top of world rugby, was on Thursday unveiled as the man to take the reins of one of the British Isles’ most esteemed sporting roles for the three-Test series on Wallabies’ turf.

And though Australian rugby has been in complete turmoil amid the farce over coach Eddie Jones’s short, woeful reign and an unprecedentedly early World Cup exit, Farrell is sure they’ll rebound big-time for the series.

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“I know Australia more than most – the Australian psyche, personnel, what it’s like to tour there,” said Farrell as he reflected on a career as a dual rugby league and union star player and coach, which has seen him tackling Aussie opposition since 1994 when he helped Wigan beat the Broncos in Brisbane in the World Club Challenge.

“I’ve grown up in Australia quite a bit as far as my career is concerned, and I know that what this tour will mean to Australians.

“When a tour comes round in Australia only once every 12 years in and you’re lucky enough as a Wallabies player to be part of that, it’s got to be extra special.

“So this is going to be a huge moment for Australia. I know the journey over the last wee while as far as Australian rugby is concerned needs a little bit of repair … but I know that they’re gonna get it right because it means so much.

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“2025 is going to be a massive year for Australian sport with the Lions coming over.”

Andy Farrell poses during the British & Irish Lions Head Coach Announcement for the 2025 Tour to Australia at Howden on January 11, 2024 in London. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Farrell, who’ll continue to coach Ireland, was asked about Australia’s rugby struggles and how they are currently still without a coach after Jones’s resignation.

But he felt they would “get it right” because of the quality of the names of possible Wallabies’ coaches being touted and because he knew first-hand “the type of personnel and quality of player and athlete that they’ve got.”

He hasn’t forgotten Ireland’s hard-fought 13-10 win over Australia in November 2022 in Dublin.

“It was one of the toughest games that we’ve we faced in our last few years, certainly at home,” he said.

Former Welsh wing wizard Ieuan Evans, part of the panel which selected Farrell, said the rugby league legend’s appointment had put the Lions in a great position to win back-to-back series in Australia. 

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In 2013, Farrell, now 48, was assistant to Lions’ coach Warren Gatland as they carved out a 2-1 win, but now he’s taking the reins from the New Zealander who’s been at the helm for the last three tours.

Eleven years ago, Farrell gave his celebrated, tub-thumping speech before the Sydney decider, urging his players to hit new heights “because there is no tomorrow”. The Lions responded to his call with a 41-16 win.

“I’ve probably grown up a little bit since then – I’m probably not as dramatic!” Farrell smiled on Thursday. 

“2013 lit something inside me that made me think, ‘I need to get back involved with this’. So to be chosen as head coach is magical,” he said.

Who takes over from Jones remains to be seen.

The Roar understands Rugby Australia is hoping to announce their new Wallabies coach by the end of February, with new consultant David Nucifora to be a part of the process to select the candidate.

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Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who took the Emerald Isle to the top of the World Rugby rankings but failed to guide them past a quarter-final appearance at the World Cup, is one of the favourites.

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has unique insight into not just new Lions coach Andy Farrell but former coach Joe Schmidt too. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Schmidt, who jumped on board Ian Foster’s coaching ticket in mid-2022 and helped turn the All Blacks into World Cup contenders, would have unique insight into not just Farrell’s coaching methods through their Irish connection but the British Isles too.

Few know Schmidt better than Nucifora, while the 1991 World Cup winner is Farrell’s current boss at the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Former Brumbies coach and Wallabies assistant Dan McKellar remains firmly in the conversation despite being in his first year with Leicester.

Other leading contenders are Michael Cheika and Stephen Larkham.

AAP with staff writers

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