IRELAND coach Andy Farrell insists that battling with his England fly-half son Owen in big games such as Saturday’s Six Nations contest in Dublin does not cause him any anxiety.
Saracens star Farrell has been recalled to England’s starting team after the 53-10 home humiliation by France.
An Ireland win will clinch the Grand Slam and while coach Farrell expects a fired-up England, he says facing his son “has never been difficult”.
“It’s respect,” he added.
Elaborating further on how they approach contests against each other, Farrell said: “We don’t ask questions that put the other person in too much of a predicament.”
Owen Farrell will captain England in the St Patrick’s Day weekend game after being selected in place of Marcus Smith and Andy says the presence of his son will only make the wounded visitors more of a threat as they aim to spoil the expected Irish party at the Aviva Stadium.
‘Owen and Johnny are pretty similar’
Andy says Saracens player Owen possesses a similar attitude to Ireland’s fly-half talisman Johnny Sexton.
“Owen and Johnny are pretty similar as far as the fight and the drive and the want,” he said.
“Both are super competitors and will make sure that their team is of the same mindset as them.
“That’s why I’m saying to you that England are going to be extremely dangerous this weekend because of mentality like that.”
Owen’s young sons Tommy and Freddie are in Dublin for the match and grandad Andy, who was an assistant to England head coach Stuart Lancaster between 2012 and 2015, joked that he would attempt to “squeeze them to cheer for Ireland”.
While England’s number 10 is the big talking point of current England head coach Steve Borthwick’s selection, Sexton, inevitably, is garnering many of the Irish headlines.
The 37-year-old, who has scored 1,050 points in 112 appearances for Ireland, is attempting to skipper the side to its fourth Grand Slam in what will be his final Six Nations match. He has announced he is retiring following this year’s World Cup in France.
Asked if there would be any ceremony around Sexton’s final match in the competition, Farrell replied: “Hopefully there are bigger games than this to come (for him).
“We know this will be his last Six Nations game but he will be playing in a couple of warm-up games here before we go to the World Cup.
“We know it’s a huge occasion for Johnny and it’s fitting he gets to have a crack at a game like this in his last one but that won’t detract (from his performance) – anything but.”
Farrell is hoping the intensity of Saturday’s occasion could possibly even rival that of the famous 2007 Six Nations contest at Croke Park when he played for England as the fired-up Irish hammered the visitors 43-13.
Amid the redevelopment of the old Lansdowne Road into what became the Aviva Stadium, the home of Gaelic Games staged rugby internationals for the first time that year and the game against England had many historical resonances.
“I’ve used it time and time again throughout my coaching career in regards to performing when it matters,” said Farrell.
“The Irish team at that time had to win because of the occasion and Croke Park and all of that.
“How they went after that game, getting the balance of the right emotion but at the same time, playing the game that was in front of them was fantastic in regards to the occasion and the crowd. I use that a lot. I think it said a lot about the Irish mentality.
“I think it definitely will be (a great atmosphere on Saturday) with the commitment from the crowd with the excitement and the buzz around Paddy’s weekend.”