Owen Farrell is set to miss Saracens’ Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster but Mark McCall insists his red card is not a hammer blow to their chances.
Farrell saw red on the hour mark in Saracens’ surprise 28-18 Gallagher Premiership loss to Wasps, catching Charlie Atkinson in the face when the sides were level at Allianz Park.
McCall’s side play Leinster in Europe on September 19 but the dismissal means they’ll likely have to make do without the fly-half in their biggest game since rugby’s restart.
“I watched it live but have not watched it on the video. He was chasing his own kick and was desperate to make a tackle and clearly got it wrong and he got his red card,” said director of rugby McCall.
“It is what it is. He could easily have been out of the Leinster came for another reason – injury or whatever.
“He missed the last quarter-final of the Champions Cup because his wife was having their first child.
“We have got plenty of good backs at the club so we will just rearrange our backline a little bit and get on with it.
“He works really hard on all parts of his game and he has improved in that area.
“Today’s incident was a little bit different because he was chasing a kick and trying to make a difference to his team. We hope the player he hit is OK.”
"It's a really bad one… I can't defend that."
Owen Farrell was shown a red card against Wasps for this tackle on Charlie Atkinson…
Lawrence Dallaglio considers the implications for Saracens AND England. pic.twitter.com/xZuOfEZK9E
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 5, 2020
Saracens were 1/50 favourites to beat a much-changed Wasps team but were outdone by a flawless Jimmy Gopperth who kicked 23 points.
Elliot Daly and Sean Maitland had crossed for Saracens to take them to 15-15 before Farrell’s red changed the match’s complexion.
Tom Willis notched Wasps’ only try and it proved enough to claim a big win and move to third in the Gallagher Premiership table.
“Charlie [Atkinson] is up and talking,” said head coach Lee Blackett. “You know Owen, he is physical but he didn’t mean it.
“You could see instantly afterwards and unfortunately Owen got that one wrong.
“We know Owen is not that type of player – he plays on the edge but genuinely never goes over that edge. He got that slightly wrong.
“Before the game I thought it was a great test of where the squad was. It was a great opportunity for a few a young lads to play against a team with England players and British and Irish Lions.
“It was Jimmy’s 100th appearance for us. We joined at the same time and he has been incredible for us over the last five years.
“He’d led us really well. It doesn’t really matter where you play him.
“He had a brief spell at 15 within the game he always seems to do a job for me.”
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