Ireland’s players are beginning to believe in Andy Farrell’s methods and remain capable of “huge progression”, according to assistant boss Mike Catt.
At the midway point of the four-year cycle for the 2023 World Cup, Farrell has won 14 of 19 fixtures as head coach but it is the attractive nature of performances which has impressed most this month.
Coach Catt is eager to continue the upward curve and ensure players do not slip into comfort zones with the 2022 Six Nations on the horizon.
“I think what’s happening is we are understanding what it takes to play international rugby and how we want to play the game,” said the former England World Cup winner.
“Everybody’s buying into it and those things do take time. You don’t have a load of time in international rugby to implement it but the boys have genuinely embraced the way Andy wants the game to be played.
“They’re starting to believe in it because they understand it. They understand it across the board, one to 15, the subs and the guys that have been with us in a squad of 40 players.
“Where we’re at, we’ve still got huge progression to make, there’s no question about it and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.
“The more and more players become comfortable at being uncomfortable the better they will become and more competition within the squad will drive players even more.
“We’re at the start of it really and there’s so much more that we need to get to, that we need to improve on, individually and as a team.”
Farrell’s squad will return to their provinces, with all four Irish sides in United Rugby Championship action this coming weekend, including Leinster versus Ulster on Saturday.
Catt has challenged players to make themselves indispensable at club level and guarantee they cannot be ignored by the national team.
“I think their individual skills need to be what we expect of them as players but also we expect them to become leaders in their provinces now,” he said.
“Not all of them are and we need them to go and play week in, week out like they play for Ireland and they really need to take the lead and make Andy pick them. Make him. Don’t get into a 50-50 with a player.
“They need to go back and make sure they share their experiences with their club mates and make sure they keep driving their standards to where we want them to be.”