Andy Farrell says Jack Crowley can take ‘massive confidence’ from Italy showing

By Sports Desk August 06, 2023

Andy Farrell expects rookie fly-half Jack Crowley to take “massive confidence” from the experience of running the show for Ireland in their 33-17 World Cup warm-up win over Italy.

Johnny Sexton’s three-match ban opened the door for his understudies to stake claims during the lead up to the tournament, with Crowley the first to be given an opportunity.

The 23-year-old, who is also competing with Ross Byrne and Ciaran Frawley for a place on the plane to France, produced an assured performance against the Azzurri on the occasion of his second Test start to strengthen his case for further action.

Unlike his full Ireland debut, when he was elevated from the bench at the 11th hour for the autumn victory over Australia due to Sexton’s late withdrawal, Crowley was given a full week to prepare.

Head coach Farrell is planning a midweek debrief with the Munster man but was encouraged by his showing on Saturday evening in Dublin.

“He did well,” said the Englishman. “Certainly in the first half, he controlled the game very well.

“I didn’t think he overplayed too much. He looked composed enough.

“There are a few things we’ll chat about during the week that will help his performance but he will be glad to get that one done.

“Another experience where he’s started at 10 and this time he’s been able to run the week, so he’ll gain massive confidence from that.”

Crowley’s mature display at the Aviva Stadium included slotting three of four conversions as two Caelan Doris tries, plus scores from Dave Kilcoyne, Stuart McCloskey and Cian Healy, secured a victory which Farrell termed “a bit clunky”.

He filled in at full-back for the second period due to Jimmy O’Brien’s shoulder injury, with debutant Frawley taking over at 10 and adding the extras on Doris’ second effort.

Farrell, whose side have further fixtures against England and Samoa this month, was less convinced following that reshuffle.

“We’ll have a look at the performances of the two of them playing together,” he said of Crowley and Frawley.

“We try and get two ball players playing together, whether that came to fruition or not, I’m not too sure at this moment in time.

“We started the second half pretty poorly really and didn’t really get going for a while there so we’ll have to look at that.”

Leinster player Frawley was one of three international newcomers from the bench alongside Ulster hooker Tom Stewart and Munster wing Calvin Nash.

The 25-year-old has been involved in Ireland training camps since November 2021 but had to be patient for his Test bow, partly due to an untimely injury.

“I’m delighted I got it and hopefully there will be more to come,” said Frawley, who is bidding to make the cut when Farrell chops his current 42-man squad down to a final 33 on August 28.

“It’s very competitive in there, it’s hard to believe they’re going to drop nine players.

“At the moment, you’re just trying to put your best foot forward and get selected for the games that are coming around the corner, focus on what’s coming.

“You obviously have the big picture in the back of your mind but, if you get ahead of yourself, you might not perform on the day.”

Nash, 25, added: “Naturally after getting our first caps, we want to push on and try to get to the World Cup for sure and get a few more caps. That’s the aim.”

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