Head coach Andy Farrell warned Ireland’s players “if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards” as he urged them to build on their exceptional form going into a monumental 2023.
Farrell has guided the Irish to the top of the global rankings during an outstanding year which included a Six Nations Triple Crown, a historic tour win over the All Blacks and victory against world champions South Africa.
Ireland flanker Josh van der Flier was on Sunday crowned men’s world player of the year, while Farrell was shortlisted for coach of 2022 but missed out to New Zealand women’s boss Wayne Smith.
Four Irishman – Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Van der Flier and captain Johnny Sexton – were also rewarded with places in World Rugby’s team of the year.
The individual recognition came a day after Ireland signed off their autumn campaign by grinding out a narrow 13-10 victory over Australia to make it nine wins from 11 Tests across a standout 12 months.
Greater challenges lie ahead, with the forthcoming Six Nations, which begins on February 4 against Wales in Cardiff, preceding a shot at World Cup glory in France during September and October.
While Farrell is more than satisfied with his team’s recent efforts, he wants to keep driving standards and not allow complacency to creep in.
“We’d be happy enough, of course, it’d be poor of me to say otherwise,” he said of the November successes over the Springboks, Fiji and the Wallabies.
“It certainly shows we’ve not been perfect. It’ll show us where we need to kick on and we’ll see over the next couple of months who is hungry enough to get back in the room.
“In all ways after any tournament you review everything that went on.
“If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. Especially with the pressures we’ll have in our next games in the Six Nations, we have to adapt and keep going in all areas.
“I’m not going to tell Wales already the areas we’re trying to look at, but we can’t stand still and that’s the message to the guys in the dressing room.”