Former England international Andy Farrell has expressed his delight at being offered the Ireland head coach position, but admitted it will be the biggest challenge of his career, Sky Sports report.

Schmidt, who has led the Irish to one Grand Slam and three Six Nations titles since taking over in 2013, will step down from the position after the World Cup in Japan later this year.

The 53-year-old has also taken Ireland from eighth to second in the World Rugby rankings during his tenure, winning 47 of his 64 matches to date.

Farrell, who has worked alongside Schmidt since 2016 after leaving England’s defence coach role, will take over from Schmidt following the World Cup.

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And when asked if replacing will be his biggest coaching challenge yet, Farrell said:

Yes, 100 per cent. It’s something I’ve been working towards, something I’m up for and excited about at the same time.

I’m proud and privileged to be asked to take over after such a brilliant coach like Joe (Schmidt). Fortunately enough as well I get a bit of time to keep on learning in the meantime.

It’s a massive honour to be given the opportunity, because it’s a privilege to be involved with the group of people we’ve got, the players and the staff. I feel where we’re going in the future is a bright place as well.

The former Saracens boss then went on to add that Ireland star Johnny Sexton will be fit for the Six Nations trip to Italy next Sunday.

Johnny is fine, he trained fully and he will be ready to go. He is fine, he’s had no symptoms at all, no complaints throughout the week.