Farrell champing at the bit ahead of Europe after shaking off rust

MUNSTER CENTRE CHRIS Farrell is hopeful that work done in February, well away from the limelight, will aid Munster’s preparation for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final (kick-off 12.45).

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Farrell was in the Ireland side who took victory against Scotland in Murrayfield last month, and six days later he was back in the 13 jersey of Munster as they hosted the Southern Kings.

After his return from injury, the powerful centre has enjoyed limited rugby this season, and the task of switching between Ireland and provincial systems proved less than seamless.

“Throughout that week of training I found myself mixing up calls and not being as sharp as I should have been or I would like to have been in a normal game,” says the 26-year-old, who set about turning that uncertainty into a positive.

“(I) said look, ‘lads whenever we get back down here for this game – because Pete, Earlsy and those lads have been off for a week – we really need to sharpen up on our ability to be mentally switched on and to know the calls as quickly and as sharply as you normally would’.

Farrell in training at UL this week. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“Because it actually is a real issue coming back in from camp, that you need to sharpen up. Because we recognised that in the middle of the Six Nations, I think it shouldn’t be an issue this week because the boys have a bit of work prior to arrival (Monday) morning.”

Though he was left nursing a shoulder injury after Ireland’s stuttering win over Italy and that run-out against the Kings was curtailed at 13 minutes due to a knee worry, Farrell himself is feeling sharper for the experience of facing Zebre last weekend.

A month on from Rome, he has had ample time to settle into the calls and develop a rhythm with Rory Scannell and Joey Carbery for the kind of fixture that Munster reputations are made or broken by.

Head coach Johann van Graan this week mentioned a ‘specific DNA’ about Munster. There is no doubt that there is something in their blood that makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up when Europe rolls around.

Farrell feels sharp after his 35-minute run-out against Zebre. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

In the lead-up to Zebre Farrell could sense that preparation was really about a bigger game just around the corner, and he had to rein himself in a bit after the Monday morning meeting looking ahead at where they can get at Richard Cockerill’s side.

“I was getting ramped up sitting in the corner and it just happens naturally.

“There is a real vibe when you come into the auditorium in a Heineken Cup week and having the other lads back – Pete, Earlsy, leaders – that probably creates a little bit of expectation that they’re back in the room, their presence is felt.”