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Fitness boost for Farrell

Owen Farrell's 'slight ankle sprain' will not threaten his participation in Saracens' Aviva Premiership title push or England's New Zealand tour.

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall confirmed Farrell was fully ready for Saturday's Premiership final against Northampton at Twickenham and would assume goal-kicking duties as normal.

The 22-year-old playmaker will now jet out to New Zealand on Monday, barring incident in Saturday's Premiership showpiece.

Mako Vunipola is still sweating on the results of knee scans that will determine whether he can feature on Saturday and in England's three-Test tour.

"Owen's fine and fine to play on Saturday," said McCall after Farrell tripped on television wiring in the warm-up to Saturday's 23-6 Heineken Cup final defeat to Toulon.

"Owen didn't train today, but he's not the only one. You get to this stage of the season and you manage people in any event.

"For example, for the whole squad yesterday it was a walk-through rather than a proper training session.

"He clearly suffered a small sprained ankle, a slight ankle sprain, but Owen's fine and it's not a worry.

"Mako has had some scans, but we expect news later in the week."

Saturday's Premiership finalists will miss England's first Test against New Zealand in Auckland on June 7 due to IRB scheduling, but McCall confirmed Farrell was currently unimpeded for the rest of the tour.

Saracens captain Steve Borthwick will bring down the curtain on 16 years' top-flight rugby this weekend before assuming a full-time coaching role with Japan next term.

Borthwick overcame shoulder trouble to start Saturday's Heineken Cup final defeat in Cardiff, leaving him free this weekend to fight to end his career in style.

McCall said Saracens must make the most of the boost of having chief lieutenants Borthwick and Farrell fit for Saturday's Saints showdown.

"Of course it's good news that Owen's fit, he's playing well," said McCall.

"That was the worst possible thing that could have happened 10 minutes before the start of the Heineken Cup final, what happened.

"He came into the changing room and his ankle had swollen straight away, it was big, and that's not ideal.

"But it kind of shows you his strength of character that he gets on with it and he plays okay.

"I thought he played well in the game so it didn't affect his performance.

"It's been huge for us that that Steve was passed fit last week too.

"Steve's led the team for six seasons, he's been integral to everything that's happened at the club and the progress we've made.

"But just on a pure playing side he just brings such confidence to the playing group, that's the key thing.

"He can definitely lift us again for the weekend, of course he can."

McCall said Saracens do not need to vindicate their progress over the course of the season by claiming the league title at Twickenham this weekend.

"We had a disappointment on Saturday, but these things are only ever a big problem if you don't learn from them," he said, pledging his side would not suffer a Heineken Cup hangover.

"We've been good at learning from situations over the years.

"If we win on Saturday you'll all say it was a brilliant season, if we lose you'll say it wasn't, but I know what's happening on the inside of the organisation.

"I know we're very strong for lots of reasons.

"Sometimes for people on the outside of that you need a trophy to justify that kind of statement and I'm aware of that."


From Belfast Telegraph