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VIDEO – Farrell urges English Lions to build on "priceless" experience

21 October 2013

  • England backs coach challenges Lions to impart lessons from victorious tour
  • Farrell refuses to dwell on winning summer


Andy Farrell believes the 11 England players that featured on this summer’s victorious British and Irish Lions tour to Australia will have learned some “priceless” lessons heading into a gruelling season of international rugby.

Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Christian Wade, Brad Barritt, Geoff Parling, Billy Twelvetrees, Manu Tuilagi Owen Farrell, Tom Croft and brothers Ben and Tom Youngs all appeared at some point over the six-week trip, which culminated in a glorious series win over the Wallabies – the first against southern hemisphere opposition for 16 years.

Andy Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

And with England meeting in Leeds today to ramp up their preparations for the three QBE Internationals at Twickenham next month, Farrell suggested those men could use their new knowledge to buoy the squad as a whole.

“First and foremost, it is about the players,” he said. “Aside from the likes of Tom Croft and Dan Cole, a lot of our lads that went on that tour were relatively inexperienced.

“Going into an environment like that was priceless for us as a nation – for those boys to see how 100-cappers like Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll have got to that level and been on four of those tours was vital. We’ve had a chat about that already and the boys have taken the lessons from that on board.

“Now we want to see that out on the field and transferred through to the rest of the squad. That’s got to be the main thing to come out of this.”

Geoff Parling challenges for a lineout

Photo: Getty Images

Farrell joined Graham Rowntree in Warren Gatland’s inner sanctum of coaches alongside Rob Howley, something that should ensure that some of the Lions feel-good factor rubs off on England’s autumn campaign.

However, with typical pragmatism the 38-year-old was reluctant to dwell on his role in such an impressive feat, especially given the new challenges that lie just around the corner.

“As coaches and players we’re not too good at the history of the game because the next job is the most important,” he added. “That’s what you are judged on.

“You have to face the reality of every performance after it, whether that is good or bad. We tend to be single-minded in that aspect, so after returning from the Lions tour it was about the three-day camp in August, then selecting the squad and we’re busy right the way through. It’ll be non-stop.”

Kieran Read

Photo: Getty Images

Next summer, England travel to New Zealand to face the All Blacks in a three-match Test series before meeting them again at HQ in November 2014 – taking the number of clashes between the sides up to five from now until the start of Rugby World Cup 2015.

With that in mind, Farrell and Rowntree travelled to Johannesburg at the start of this month to watch the Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and Steve Hansen’s charges – a truly epic encounter that eventually saw the All Blacks triumph 38-27 and extend their run of consecutive Test wins to 10 since suffering a defeat to England at Twickenham last December.

“They were clinical, there’s no doubt about that,” Farrell finished. “To stay composed in a top rugby arena at Ellis Park – the cauldron of Springbok rugby – and to be able to perform like that with the pressure that South Africa threw at them was great to see live. It’s somewhere we aspire to be.”