Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Farrell in awe of Wilkinson

Owen Farrell is set to play in his first Heineken Cup semi-final on Sunday

Owen Farrell regards Jonny Wilkinson as an "unbelievable" player as the England fly-halves past and present prepare to meet for the first time.

Saracens face Toulon in Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final at Twickenham with the impending duel between Wilkinson and Farrell attracting the most attention. Farrell was 11 when Wilkinson kicked the World Cup-winning drop-goal against Australia in 2003 and continues to admire a figure who he believes continues to lay the blueprint for fly-half play.

"Jonny is someone I respect massively. He set the standard and pushed the bar right up as far as fly-halves are concerned," he said.

"And he's still doing that today, not just by the way he is on the field but by the way he is off it as well. He's an unbelievable player who works so hard to get to where he needs to be. Everyone wants to follow in his footsteps.

"Not only does he control the game and everyone knows about the work he puts into his kicking, but he smashes people as well. He gets stuck in and puts his hands up for the team. A lot of people respect him for that."

Toulon have won all five previous Heineken Cup matches against English clubs and will arrive at Twickenham with an expensively-assembled squad bursting with household names.

"Matt Giteau's there and he's a special player and just outside him is Mathieu Bastareaud, so you can't afford to focus on one player," Farrell added.

"Their squad is unbelievable, full of established internationals.

"This tournament is the best of the best, so to be involved in a semi-final against a team like Toulon is a massive privilege.

"I've never been involved in a Heineken Cup semi-final before, so that makes this a bit special."

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