Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Farrell cut from Wilkinson cloth

Mark McCall compared Owen Farrell's work ethic to Jonny Wilkinson

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes Owen Farrell and Jonny Wilkinson share the same nerveless temperament.

The England fly-halves past and present look set meet for the first time at Twickenham on Sunday when Saracens wrestle with Toulon for a place in the Heineken Cup final.

"The comparison of their temperaments is fair. From a young age they were both very strong minded," said McCall. "That's particularly important during matches when things are getting a bit chaotic - you need someone who can see the wood for the trees and stay composed in the heat of battle."

He added: "Both of them have that and both share the same dedication and work ethic. They're two very good players.

"But Sunday is not really a battle between them, it's about which team can give their fly-half time, space and front foot ball. It will be more about a team thing rather than an individual display."

Toulon's expensively assembled squad is full of household names such as Wilkinson, Bakkies Botha, Frederic Michalak and Matt Giteau, yet despite the vast number of different nationalities they have gelled into a team to be feared.

They lie second in the French Top 14, one point below leaders and fellow Heineken Cup semi-finalists Clermont, and are one match away from a first appearance in the prestige event of European rugby.

"It seems to me that they've brought in the right kind of people this time around," McCall said.

"They have signed players who have been successful in other places but who are still motivated and ambitious. That's critical and when you bring together 15-20 very motivated world class players, then you'll get some success.

"But at the same time we're in good form ourselves and have lots of great players and we're confident we can give them a run for their money. We've been on a great journey in this year's campaign. We beat Racing Metro twice, Munster once and then got a great win against Ulster in the quarter-finals."

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