Rugby World Cup: Chris Farrell hails impact of Ireland's project players

Farrell and Aki departed for Japan with the rest of the Ireland squad on Wednesday
Farrell and Aki departed for Japan with the rest of the Ireland squad on Wednesday

Munster centre Chris Farrell has strongly backed the project players in Ireland's World Cup squad.

Farrell said South Africa-born Jean Kleyn has followed CJ Stander and Bundee Aki's example in committing heavily to his adopted homeland.

Kleyn won his first Ireland cap in August just two days after qualifying on residency, then edged out stalwart lock Devin Toner in the squad.

"Bundee and CJ in particular have done so much," said Farrell.

"Not only for Irish rugby but their provinces. I've walked down the streets of Galway with Bundee and it's chaos, he's such a leader down there and has done so much for the province.

"CJ is no different in Munster, they've been here for a long, long time and their families have grown up here. CJ has had a baby girl here and they really have fitted in so well.

"They add so much to the team, and Jean Kleyn will be no different, especially as he settles in for a longer period. I think it's fantastic to have them.

"People from Ireland have a proud history of having the bravery to move around the world, we've been doing it for years and years. So maybe that makes them a little more Irish for doing the same."

Jean Kleyn
Kleyn is a team-mate of Farrell's at Munster

Farrell himself risked every chance of a Test career by leaving native province Ulster for France and Grenoble in 2014.

The 26-year-old made peace with the fact he expected to relinquish any chance of representing Ireland when he moved abroad.

However, rather than end his Test opportunity, three years in France proved his very making, with Farrell returning to Ireland and Munster more mature and ready for the rigours of international rugby.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland will launch their Pool A campaign against Scotland in Yokohama on 22 September, with Farrell itching for the tournament to start.

"As soon as I went to France I thought the dream of playing for Ireland had gone," admitted Farrell.

"Then I came back to get my first cap and get my first game in the Six Nations. Every time I sit back and look at those milestones, I reflect on it and think 'I never thought this would happen'.

"It's been an unbelievable journey. It really makes the decision to come back to Ireland worthwhile. Going to France was the making of me, getting out of my comfort zone.

"I learnt so much in France. It was all down to game time. You don't learn unless you are out there playing, being put in situations you are uncomfortable with, learning on the go."