Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Owen Farrell is developing an aura, says England coach Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones senses that an aura is developing around Owen Farrell and has promised England's talisman playmaker that his most successful years are to come.

Farrell wins his 50th cap when the RBS 6 Nations champions resume their title defence with Italy's visit to Twickenham on Sunday, forging a new-look centre partnership with Ben Te'o.

Of all the contributors to the record 16-Test winning run, it is world player of the year nominee Farrell who has contributed most, emerging as the heartbeat of Jones' England.

Added to the robust defence, pinpoint kicking and competitive spirit that have been hallmarks of his game are enhanced playmaking skills that were evident when he engineered the match-winning try in a 21-16 victory over Wales a fortnight ago.

Jones gave Farrell his professional debut as a 17-year-old when he was Saracens director of rugby and even then knew his path would take him to the summit of the game.

"You could tell when he was young that he would always be a driven player - driven to be his best," Jones said.

"My first impression of him was how driven he was and how much he wanted to get better and wanted to make the most of his career.

"It was almost inevitable he would be a first team player at Saracens. If you've got that amount of desire and a reasonable amount of natural ability you are going to be a good player.

"I don't think he's as good a player as he can be yet, and that's the great thing because his next 50 caps will be better than his first 50 - much better.

"I look at him now and he's developing. He's faster now than he was in November, he's got better footwork than he had and his catching and passing are more consistent.

"Being a great player is about being consistent and that's what we'll see from him going forward.

"The aura comes from your performance and he's starting to develop that because he's so consistent."

Only Jonny Wilkinson was younger when reaching the 50-cap milestone, achieving the mark at 24 compared to Farrell's 25, but Jones is wary of drawing comparisons with England's World Cup-winning fly-half.

Wilkinson acts as a mentor and kicking coach to Farrell and George Ford during international camps.

"I don't think Owen should be compared to other players. He is Owen Farrell and he is a different player," Jones said.

"In his first 50 Tests he will be disappointed that his winning record is less than Jonny Wilkinson's.

"But I'm guaranteeing that in his next 50 his winning record will be better than Jonny Wilkinson's."

Farrell's chief shortcoming was a fiery temperament that mired him in niggly on-pitch skirmishes, and while he has developed into a more disciplined operator under Jones, the Australian does not want him to lose his edge.

"Being more mature and calmer comes with age. Everyone when they are young is quite hot under the collar. You don't have patience, you learn patience and you get patience with age," Jones said.

"I want my players to win, as long as they are doing everything they can to win.

"You can do that in the most overt way and be yelling and screaming and punching your chest or you can do it in a quiet way. Either way it doesn't matter.

"You look at George Ford and Owen Farrell - there is no difference in their desire to win, it's just one expresses it in a different way."


From Belfast Telegraph