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Owen Farrell: England captain set for first Saracens appearance since announcing break from international rugby | Rugby Union News

England captain Owen Farrell will miss the 2024 Six Nations in order to prioritise his and family’s mental well-being; Farrell has received plenty of support from current and former players after announcing he will take a break from international rugby

Last Updated: 06/12/23 4:32pm


England's Marcus Smith says seeing Owen Farrell take a break from international rugby to prioritise his and his family's mental well-being is a reminder to everyone to look after themselves

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England’s Marcus Smith says seeing Owen Farrell take a break from international rugby to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being is a reminder to everyone to look after themselves

England’s Marcus Smith says seeing Owen Farrell take a break from international rugby to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being is a reminder to everyone to look after themselves

Owen Farrell will make his first appearance since his decision to step away from Test rugby was announced when Saracens launch their Champions Cup campaign on Saturday.

England captain Farrell will be unavailable for the Six Nations later this season after choosing to take a break from the international game to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

He then missed Saracens’ Premiership defeat against Northampton due to a knee problem.

But Saracens rugby director Mark McCall has confirmed the 32-year-old fly-half will face leading South African challengers the Bulls in Pretoria.

“He’s available and he is going to play this weekend. He has trained fully over the last two days,” McCall said.

Saracens boss Mark McCall says he can't understand the 'shameful' treatment of Farrell by some supporters and the media

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Saracens boss Mark McCall says he can’t understand the ‘shameful’ treatment of Farrell by some supporters and the media

Saracens boss Mark McCall says he can’t understand the ‘shameful’ treatment of Farrell by some supporters and the media

“He has enjoyed being with his team-mates, and it is a great opportunity for us all to spend a bit of time together away from the British winter.

“I don’t know how many European Cup games he has played – him and Alex Goode have probably played in more than anybody at the club.

“He is our captain, he is our leader, someone who is respected by everyone at the club. To have him on the field, of course, is an enormous benefit.

“Not just to have him on the field, but have him in the team room, in the meetings – his contribution is so enormous and it is great to have him here with us.”

Former England prop Rocky Clark says Farrell has shown courage and bravery by taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health

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Former England prop Rocky Clark says Farrell has shown courage and bravery by taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health

Former England prop Rocky Clark says Farrell has shown courage and bravery by taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health

Three-time European champions Saracens have won the tournament more than any other English club, although they made a quarter-final exit last term to eventual winners La Rochelle.

They will tackle a Bulls side currently third in the United Rugby Championship, having won five out of seven league fixtures this season.

“We have been really impressed with what we have seen, especially in their last couple of home games. They are strong in all areas,” added McCall.

Former Burnley and Leeds defender Clarke Carlisle praised Farrell for taking time away to prioritise his mental health

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Former Burnley and Leeds defender Clarke Carlisle praised Farrell for taking time away to prioritise his mental health

Former Burnley and Leeds defender Clarke Carlisle praised Farrell for taking time away to prioritise his mental health

“Games don’t get much tougher in round one than coming to the Bulls, especially with the run of form they are on, but it is a challenge which usually brings the best out of the group we have got.

“We’ve had a good relationship with this competition for a very long period of time. It has felt really good on the training field from the moment we touched down here.”

Smith: ‘Quite scary’ seeing England skipper Farrell struggle

Marcus Smith said it was “quite scary” to see England team-mate Farrell step away from international rugby.

Smith played alongside Farrell in four matches at the Rugby World Cup as England claimed a third-placed finish but the latter was frequently booed in France, sometimes with his family present in the stadium.

Smith told Sky Sports News: “I know England try their best trying to ensure your family time is well accounted for.

“However, when you’re playing at that sort of level, and he’s been doing it for years, an absolute legend of the game and of English rugby… To see him struggle with this, I want to wish him the very best and hope everything is alright with him and his family.

“It’s quite scary to be honest because when you see such a powerful person having to step down in the game, it almost reminds you that mentally we’re all human and we all feel the same feelings.

“Hopefully it’s a good pointer for all of us that we need to stay in check with our mental health and look after our minds first and foremost.”


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