Farrell eyes England honours
May 29, 2011
Saracens' Owen Farrell celebrates his side's Premiership Final victory © Getty Images
Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell has set his sights on the England No.10 shirt after steering his side to Aviva Premiership glory.
The 19-year-old playmaker, who began the season on loan at Championship side Bedford, kicked 17 points to propel his side to a dramatic 22-18 victory over Leicester Tigers at Twickenham on Saturday. But it was his equally impressive composure that had many tipping him to follow his father - Saracens coach Andy Farrell - into the England senior ranks sooner rather than later.
Farrell's immediate future lies with the England U20 squad and next month's Junior World Championship in Italy but he hopes that will just be a stepping stone to bigger things. "I'd love to get an England jersey on my back now," said Farrell junior. "I have always been a person with big aspirations and I have always been confident I could take my chance (on the big stage) but you never know until you are out there.
"To come to a special place like Twickenham and do that to Leicester is unbelievable. My Dad was very excited afterwards. This year I think I have surprised myself as well as surprising other people. I have still got a hell of a lot to learn. This is only the start for me."
Farrell was recalled from Championship club Bedford in November after Derick Hougaard ruptured his Achilles and he played a pivotal role in Saracens' 13-game winning run to the title. A year out of school and playing the biggest game of his young life, Farrell was coolness personified at Twickenham while the more experienced Leicester fly-half Toby Flood - the current owner of the England No.10 shirt - struggled to impose his authority.
Flood missed two simple kicks but Farrell was faultless with the boot, including one rushed effort when referee Wayne Barnes warned he was running out of time. There was a significant moment in the frantic closing stages, as Saracens mounted a fierce goal-line stand to protect their lead, when Farrell dumped Flood on his back-side.
The last father and son combination to represent England were Dick and Will Greenwood. Farrell's Test credentials were backed by team-mates and opponents alike. Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs said: "Owen was very, very good. He looked very relaxed and calm - I think he was the calmest guy on the pitch. He's had a great season, and it is great for English rugby there are a lot of talented guys coming through the system. I am sure in the next couple of years you will see Owen Farrell in a Test match."
The official man of the match award went to Saracens hooker Schalk Brits, but he reserved special praise for Farrell's contribution. "Owen Farrell is a kid who played like a man. For a kid of 19 to play rugby like that is a phenomenal feat. He'll definitely play international rugby."
Farrell's more immediate challenge will be to keep hold of the Saracens 10 jersey, with Charlie Hodgson bound for Vicarage Road next season while Hougaard has signed a new deal. "We play a rotation at our club. Charlie is experienced and I hope to learn a lot from him but hopefully I can play enough games to carry on learning and improving," said Farrell. "The club can be what it wants to be. We have created something special and this is the start of it. We want to go for in the Heineken Cup and we want to be here every year."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery