Ireland centre Chris Farrell enjoying silencing his critics at the World Cup
Chris Farrell is relishing the chance to prove he is far more than just a “crash-ball merchant” at the World Cup.
The Munster centre has been enjoying the banter from his Ireland team-mates, who have joked that Farrell’s talents only extend as far as his power running game.
Club team-mate Dave Kilcoyne revealed the 26-year-old has been the butt of jokes among the squad, but Farrell himself knows that light-hearted grief only serves to underscore just how far his game has developed in the last two years.
“He’s got a bit of slagging for being a bit of a crash-ball merchant from the others, so he’s obviously wanted to prove a point!” joked prop Kilcoyne, of Farrell’s playing style.
Belfast-born Ulster academy product Farrell had to head out to France and Grenoble to take his career to the next level.
In 2014 when he traded Northern Ireland for France, Farrell felt his chance of a Test career with Ireland was over.
But head coach Joe Schmidt kept in regular contact with him, offering constructive criticism on how he could improve.
Adding finesse to his highly-effective bludgeon has helped Farrell elevate his career, and now the eight-cap international is thriving in the Ireland ranks.
“Coming back to Ireland I’ve improved the basics massively,” said Farrell.
“In France they might not put so much emphasis on the basics, but coming back here you just realise how important those things are.
“And that’s one thing I think has certainly improved, and that’s huge as well.
“Especially in these high-pressure games, basics really have to come to the fore, you’ve got to look after the ball, you’ve got to do the simple things well.
“The best teams do those things well. You can build your game on that.”
Bundee Aki has passed all his head injury checks and returned to full training, leaving the Connacht centre available for selection for Saturday’s Pool A clash with hosts Japan in Shizuoka.
Ireland may opt not to risk Aki however and hand the 29-year-old the chance to prepare for clashes later on in the group stage.
Robbie Henshaw is unlikely to be ready to return after hamstring trouble, so Farrell could be well placed for more World Cup action.
After impressing off the bench in the 27-3 win over Scotland having replaced Aki early on, Farrell hailed the strength of Ireland’s centre cordon.
“We’ve got a competitive area, but we’ve had a few injuries there too, so whatever combination we have we’re all comfortable and know each other’s roles so we feed off each other,” said Farrell.
“I grew up as a 12 at Ulster, playing a lot of 12 there. So whether you’re at 12 or 13, you’ve got to know each role and you’ve got to understand what a 12 wants from you so that you can be a better 13 and vice versa.
“So in this group you’ve got to be able to do either.”