Keith Wood after playing for the British & Irish Lions

Keith Wood: Andy Farrell A ‘Class’ Appointment For Lions

Irish rugby legend Keith Wood has given his full backing to newly appointed British & Irish Lions Head Coach Andy Farrell.

Wood, who represented the British & Irish Lions on 2 tours, spoke exclusively to BoyleSports ahead of the start of the 2024 Six Nations. He has hailed the Ireland Head Coach and went into detail with us about why Farrell is the man to lead the Lions to success in Australia in 2025.

Andy Farrell Is A ‘Class’ Appointment For British & Irish Lions

I think Andy Farrell is class. I think he gets the Lions. I think he gets high performance. He is a believer in people. I’d like for him to have gone further in the World Cup with Ireland. And I think he will have learned an awful lot from that.

You know, when your standard is to win it, it’s a failure if you don’t.  I think he would be smarting. I think he might have done a few things differently.

But that’s the joy of sports is you get another day to learn from your mistakes. It’s the one where it becomes really hard when guys don’t get a chance to learn from their mistakes.

I think Andy consistently surrounds himself with guys who challenge him and who have got very good rugby union nous.

*Andy Farrell’s Ireland are the 6/4 second favourites for the 2024 Six Nations according to the latest rugby odds at BoyleSports.

Farrell’s Man Management Skills

He is an excellent man manager. That’s a really big deal. If you want to look  for comparisons, Andy has Lions history as an assistant coach. So that’s a really good thing in his back pocket. He has a history of high performance, that’s a really good thing. He’s a history of leading teams, that’s a good thing.

I have made a comment about Geech (Sir Ian McGeechan) which sometimes gets criticised. But I stand by it. I think Geech is the best coach of world class players I’ve ever seen.

It is where I think the Lions has to be. I’m not entirely sure that the Lions have to be pragmatic to win a series, by kicking every ball. For me that is not what the Lions is about.

Geech’s thing was setting out his stall, ‘This is our philosophy, this is what we believe in, this is what we want you to be able to think and do. Let’s heighten your skills together as a group.’

*Australia, who the British & Irish Lions tour in 2025, are 7/1 to win the 2027 Rugby World Cup according to the latest rugby betting odds at BoyleSports.

You’re actually picked as a Lion because you’re able to think your way around the game, and you have the skills to be able to do it, and off you go. Because then you get an opportunity to see players perform with full freedom, being able to make a decision and expecting another player who’s very, very good to be able to pick that line or understand what you’re going to do without having it be to be a call.

And the best coaches on the ‘97 Lions tour were the players. Jim Telfer (The forwards’ coach) was regimented and driven, and built a core of repetitive skills.

That is an absolute essential foundation for a pack of forwards. I still think technically he was the best I’ve come across. He was just incredible.

But it’s what you’re learning from the other players, the nuances of the other players. That’s the joy of the Lions.  Playing for the Lions is not going and saying, ‘This is the game plan. You’re doing this. And if you don’t fit into this, you’re not playing.’

I was chatting with a New Zealander who studies sports psychology the other day about the Lions. We went back to the Lions tour of 1959 and my Dad was on that tour to New Zealand.

The ethos was to entertain. It’s interesting that his view is that after that tour New Zealand rugby started changing how they were going about things because of that.

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