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'Farrell has failed as a centre. He has failed as a captain' - Lion calls for change

By Ian Cameron

Trending on RugbyPass

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Former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes has called for Owen Farrell to be dropped as captain, claiming the Saracens star has failed ‘as a centre’ and ‘as a captain’.


Farrell, 29, has struggled for form in 2021 and only played a minor Test role for the British & Irish Lions in South Africa, despite having once been a hot favorite to start the series.

Barnes wants to see Farrell replaced as England captain by Saracens teammate Maro Itoje as part of a shake-up of the hierarchy in the team. Despite having over 90 Test caps and being one of most decorated England players of his era, Barnes believes that Farrell has ‘failed’.

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“Farrell has failed as a centre. He has failed as a captain when the game plan has wobbled. He has succeeded as a link between team and management,” wrote Barnes in his column in The Times.

“This leads to the primary problem for England — an inability to think for themselves. New faces are needed, new faces with a freedom to think fresh thoughts.

“There is only one alternative: Maro Itoje must be appointed captain. The case is strong. He has been world-class for half a decade.”

Barnes also argues that Itoje, and not Alun Wyn Jones, should have captained the Lions.


“He should have been the Lions captain and he should be the England captain. It is time to hear the England players — not only the coach. Here is someone capable of inspiring players and supporters; on the field, in a press conference and in the big wide world beyond the team camp.”

Barnes also suggests that Farrell might have to make way for Harlequins young gun Marcus Smith, whose gun slinging approach and attacking brand of rugby helped lead the West Londoners to their first Gallagher Premiership title in ten years.

“Smith more than symbolises the changing elements. He looks to hold the key to a new England, with an ability to mix and match their rugby in a way we have all too rarely seen in the past few years.”

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'Farrell has failed as a centre. He has failed as a captain' - Lion calls for change