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Borthwick reveals how Farrell reacted to getting benched by England

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has explained how Owen Farrell reacted this week to his demotion from the England starting team to face France this Saturday at Twickenham. The head coach had named the Saracens player as the Test team’s skipper when he originally named his Guinness Six Nations squad in January and Farrell went on to lead the side in the February matches against Scotland, Italy and Wales.


The latter two of those appearances came at No10 as he was switched into that position from inside centre in place of the benched Marcus Smith after the pair had initially combined as the starting England 10/12 for the opening round loss versus Scotland.

Borthwick has now had another selection rethink, though, ahead of the round four clash versus France and it was at 1:30pm on Thursday when the RFU confirmed that Smith would wear the No10 jersey this weekend – with Farrell dropping to the replacements and acting as the No22 bench backup.

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Asked at his follow-up media briefing about how Farrell had taken the news of his England demotion, Borthwick explained: “Owen has been brilliant, he always is. He trains brilliantly, he leads this team fantastically well whatever role he is put in and he has been incredible this week.

“I can’t praise Owen enough, not just for this week but every day since we started working together in this capacity. Owen has been just an incredible trainer, an incredible help with all the players around the squad – he cares so deeply about this team. Owen is a player who has incredible respect from everyone attached to the England rugby team.”


Borthwick clarified that Farrell will retake the England captaincy as soon as he is introduced from the bench on Saturday. “Ellis Genge is captaining the team for the first time and I’m delighted for him as he is a fantastic leader. We are blessed with brilliant leaders in this squad.


“Unfortunately, Courtney Lawes had to leave the squad this week due to injury, another brilliant leader, so Ellis will captain the team at the start of the game and then Owen will captain the team when he comes onto the pitch.”


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