The penny finally drops for Owen Farrell: Eddie Jones says England captain is working on tackle technique after his ban for horror hit
- Farrell has been working on his tackle technique following his recent red card
- He was banned for five weeks for a reckless hit on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson
- The fly-half will continue as skipper against the Barbarians on Sunday
Eddie Jones has revealed that England skipper Owen Farrell has been working on his tackle technique in light of his recent red card.
Farrell was banned for five weeks and missed Saracens’ crucial Champions Cup run-in after he was sent off for a reckless hit on Wasps youngster Charlie Atkinson.
It left lingering questions about the fly-half’s temperament, but Jones revealed the No 10 will continue as skipper after naming a 32-man squad to face the Barbarians.
Andy Farrell was sent off for a reckless hit on Wasps youngster Charlie Atkinson in September
‘Owen and I have ongoing conversations,’ said Jones. ‘There’s not a day where we don’t talk or text each other. And now he’s in camp, it’s face to face. He’s aware of his responsibilities as England captain — he made a mistake in a game. We’ve moved on from that and now his job is to be the best England captain he can be.
‘He’s always working on his tackle technique. I was walking through the gym this morning before we were going to catch up, he was doing some extra work with John Clarke. That’s a constant work-on for not only Owen, but a lot of our players.
‘The laws of the high tackle have become increasingly tight, which is for the welfare of the players and all of our players are conscious of their responsibility.’
Preparations for the fixture at Twickenham have been hit by the uncertainty around the Premiership final. Wasps’ involvement will hinge on results from their latest round of Covid testing on Wednesday, with Bristol on standby to face Exeter in the event of their withdrawal.
Farrell goes in lower for tackle on Alex Mitchell during an England training session last week
It means Jones is unable to call on a number of household names, including recent European cup winners Henry Slade, Jack Nowell and Kyle Sinckler. However, Jones named 11 uncapped players in his squad and could use the curtain-raiser to blood some exciting new talent.
‘I was particularly impressed by a number of Exeter players who did well in what was a good- quality European Cup final,’ said Jones. ‘I was also very pleased for Bristol to win their first trophy. I always look at those games as selection games.
‘They’re important games because they’re high-pressure and you see the guys play under the pressure of winning or not winning a trophy. We’ve had that previously with Saracens being a dominant team in Europe, and now we’ve got Exeter.
‘It’s been a tough time for the country. A lot of people have lost their jobs and a lot of people have had losses in their family. We’re conscious of our responsibility to put a smile on people’s faces.
‘The attitude in the camp has been first-class and this week we move into preparation for the Barbarians, so things are a bit more serious and we’re knuckling down to prepare for a game.’
England will go into the match without Lions star Elliot Daly, who is recovering from a leg injury.
‘Elliot has had a bump on his leg — I was speaking to him this morning — for a good period of time,’ revealed Jones. ‘It hasn’t really worried him and he’s trained. We’re not sure what’s wrong, so we’re going to get some tests done and we’ll wait and see what the answer is.
‘I’d rather not say which part of his leg, let’s just wait and see. We’ll do all the various tests and he will see a consultant, and then we’ll have a pretty good idea of where he’s at.’
Meanwhile, the confusion around the Premiership final has also affected Wales’ preparations, with Bristol No 10 Callum Sheedy unable to join the training camp.
Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said: ‘It would have been nice to have had him in from the start but, from our perspective, him playing in finals is good for us. That’s his bread and butter.
‘The same with Tomas Francis — it’s fantastic for them.’