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The 4 reasons why England have backed Farrell to remain skipper

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has insisted Owen Farrell remains the right player to lead England even though he played just once in November’s three Test matches after isolation rules and injury held him back from national team duty following his frustrating tour to South Africa with the Lions. 

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The 30-year-old came into the Autumn Nations Series looking to dispel the criticism he shipped during the summer when he was beaten by Dan Biggar to the No10 Lions jersey and only featured in two of their three Test games off the bench, missing out of the series decider when overlooked entirely by Warren Gatland.   

England boss Jones had stated in September that Farrell was still his man despite what happened in South Africa. “All I am worried about is getting Owen Farrell back to his best,” he said at the time. “He hasn’t been at his best over the last period of time but I am convinced that I can get him back to his best and then we will decide on the leadership of the team but at this stage, there is no reason why he won’t be captain.”

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Jones backed up this assertion by naming Farrell as his November series skipper but he was ruled out as the starting No10 versus Tonga after returning a false positive for Covid and he then suffered a series-ending ankle injury in the second half of the mid-series win over Australia after he had started at inside centre with Marcus Smith at out-half. 

That injury required surgery to put right and it is now hoped that Farrell will make his Saracens comeback in this weekend’s European Challenge Cup game versus London Irish. Farrell’s return comes after much speculation that his England captaincy was in jeopardy as it was alleged he could no longer be guaranteed his place in the starting XV.  

However, Jones gave his latest vote of confidence to Farrell on Tuesday when naming him as England skipper for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations campaign which begins with the February 5 away game against Scotland. Asked why Farrell was still captain, Jones gave four succinct reasons: “Because he has the respect of the team, he is a winner, he drives the competitive spirit of the team and he is the right man to lead the team.”

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Asked if a single outing for Saracens would be enough, though, for Farrell to prove his fitness for Test match rugby against Scotland, Jones added: “We will just wait and see. He is due to play this week, has another training week and then he will be eligible for selection, but we have to see where he is up to.”

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