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Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith to combine in new look England backline

(Photo by PA)

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Owen Farrell has returned to England camp with his hunger sharpened by finally emerging from an injury-hit spell, according to attack coach Martin Gleeson.


Farrell was struck down by an ankle problem in the autumn and was then forced to miss the entire Six Nations because of a similar issue to his other leg, but he has since made a successful comeback for Saracens.

The 30-year-old is hoping to regain his place in England’s midfield and the captaincy for the July tour to Australia and his presence has already been felt at a three-day training camp in Richmond.

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“Owen is key for us, a really important figure within the squad. He’s been great. He drives a lot of the behaviours, the attitude, the desire in the team,” Gleeson said.

“The guy is hungry. He has had a big lay off, got injured in the Aussie game, missed the Six Nations.

“He just wants to play rugby, he’s a rugby player, he loves it out there and every day he loves it. He’s a student of the game and is speaking about stuff all the time.

“The thing with Owen is that he’s a good all-round footballer, he can play at the line, he can organise, he can kick well. He has a full range of attributes.


“It’s good to have him back in camp, really good to have his presence back again. I think it’s going to be a massive positive for the group.”

England look set to retain Marcus Smith at fly-half for the first Test against the Wallabies in Perth on July 2 with Farrell targeting inside centre for his first international match since a 32-15 victory over Australia in November.

The two playmakers worked in tandem for 68 minutes against the Wallabies and it is a combination that Gleeson believes can pay dividends as he consults the duo over how best to shape the attack.

“In the autumn him and Marcus got on really well. They do work together really well,” Gleeson said.


“I think Owen can free up Marcus a little bit so he doesn’t have too much to think about.

“Marcus plays with a smile on his face, plays what he sees and is pretty instinctive. Owen can be really controlled and methodical. The combination of those two from what I’ve seen is a good one.

“We have little groups with him, me and Marcus, speaking about what we need to do. We do that together with some other players that lead the attack…”

Gleeson is looking forward to working with London Irish’s 19-year-old sensation Henry Arundell, who is appearing at his first senior England camp on the back of scoring some sensational tries in his debut professional season.

“Henry’s a really good talent. He’s got speed. He’s a big lad for a winger, well built. He’s got phenomenal talent and he’s shown that in recent weeks,” Gleeson said.

“He’s a young kid and I can’t wait to see him on the training field to see how he gets on in this different environment.”


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