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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Alex Spink

Andy Farrell issues World Cup warning to Ireland's rivals after Grand Slam triumph

Andy Farrell ticked the Grand Slam box then issued a Rugby World Cup warning to Ireland’s rivals.

His side had beaten England to notch a 10th straight win and consolidate their world number one ranking.

But Farrell insisted: “There’s a long way to go for us to be at our best - which is a great sign. We’re a good side that’s nowhere near reached its potential.”

He went further, telling captain Johnny Sexton “there are bigger fish to fry than this”. By which he means the World Cup.

Ireland have never been past the quarter-finals, a dismal record for a rugby nation of their stature. They are drawn in pool with holders South Africa and Scotland, with only two to advance.

Yet these men in green are making a habit of rewriting history. They had not won a series in New Zealand until a year ago, while this was the first Grand Slam to be clinched in Dublin.

Ireland players celebrate their Grand Slam triumph after beating England 29-16 (Peter Morrison/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

“We’ve carried on winning,” said Farrell. “Is that the yardstick, I don’t know. I suppose we just go on the performances.

“We continue to find a way. It’s never been perfect but the game is not like that, so the mental strength of our game and large parts of our game are in a good place.”

Sexton brought the curtain down on his Six Nations career with nine points to surpass Ronan O’Gara as the championship’s all-time record scorer on 566.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, Ireland has ever produced,” Farrell said. “What a way for him to go out of the Six Nations, lifting the trophy on a Grand Slam.”

For all that they deserve the plaudits, England gave the Irish a right good rattle and but for indiscipline would have taken it to the wire.

“I keep on saying that the opposition is always going to have a say,” Farrell added. “England were there to spoil the party 100 per cent and they did really well.

“I thought we started off pretty nervy, which obviously wasn’t part of the plan, but we kept calm and we kept on finding a way and that just sums up where the team’s at, to get there in the end with a bonus-point win.”

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