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'That speaks volumes': How Lions vote told Gatland all he needed to know about Farrell

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

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Warren Gatland has revealed the enormous level of respect that England skipper Owen Farrell has amongst the 2021 Lions squad. The Saracens captain only linked up with the tourists in recent days at their Channel Islands base in Jersey ahead of their trip to South Africa.


Farrell and four other Saracens players arrived into the camp a week later than 25 other players due to their club’s Championship final second leg match on Sunday versus Ealing, but his value to the group became immediately apparent.

Not only were Farrell and Jamie George the only two newly arrived players chosen in the matchday 23 to face Japan next Saturday in Edinburgh, but it also emerged that the esteem his fellow players hold him in was reflected during a vote taken at the Lions administration day in London last month.    

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“I have spoken to Owen and the chat was about it not being the greatest Six Nations (with England), but we picked him on the leadership and experience that he can bring to the group,” said Gatland after he named his team to take on the Japanese.

“He is a fantastic competitor and what he has achieved and his success speaks for itself. We did an administration day and I asked the players to pick a leadership group, which we have done. 

“I thought it was interesting that he ended up with the most votes out of anyone in the leadership group, so that speaks volumes for the respect in which he is held by all the players in the group, not just the England players. Knowing him as a competitor he will go out and make the most of his opportunities and I expect him to have a great tour.”


With Finn Russell not considered due to a strain picked up with Racing, Farrell is one of four England players chosen on the Murrayfield bench as back-up to a Lions XV that contains no English players for the first time since 1950. Instead, Ireland were the dominant country with six starters while Wales accounted for five and Scotland four in the guise of Duhan van der Merwe, Rory Sutherland, Zander Fagerson and Hamish Watson.


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