England boss Jones wants Farrell to get in France’s face

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The fly-half starts as captain for the first time due to Dylan Hartley’s calf injury.

England’s Owen Farrell is captain for the France clash (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Owen Farrell has been urged by Eddie Jones to lead England with his customary aggression having been given approval for his conduct in the tunnel at Murrayfield.

Farrell starts as captain for the first time after Dylan Hartley, an ever-present throughout Jones’ 26 Tests in charge, was ruled out of the NatWest 6 Nations showdown in Paris by a calf injury.

A fortnight ago Farrell was involved in a tunnel scuffle with Ryan Wilson shortly before the 25-13 defeat by Scotland, but the incident only served to strengthen Jones’ belief that the Saracens playmaker is the best choice to cover for Hartley.

“Owen did what was right for the team. I expect our players to do what is right for the team,” Jones said.

“We want him to be in France’s face and that’s one of the best attributes of Owen’s play. He is an aggressive, in-your-face type player. We want him to be like that.

“We don’t want him to be aggressive and in the face of (referee) Jaco Peyper when he is at the referee.

“That is when he’s going to have to have that ability to change, but he does that with his goal-kicking.


England Training and Press Conference – St Edwards School
Owen Farrell, third right, takes the captaincy from Dylan Hartley, second right, against France (John Walton/PA)

“That’s the role he will have to do when he is captain and needs to speak to the referee.”

It is hoped that Hartley will recover in time for the climax to the Six Nations against Ireland on March 17, but in the meantime he will travel to Paris with the squad.

“Whenever you get a transfer of power there is always a grey area and Owen and Dylan will work it out for themselves in terms of who does what,” Jones said.


“We will make sure we go into the game with the captaincy effect we need to have.

“It’s a must-win game for us so we’ve decided to go with what we think is the strongest leadership structure.

“Every good player just wants clear, direct messages and you are going to get that from Owen.

“He’s a man of few words. He’s a northerner and he gets to the point. What he says, they will understand.”

Farrell will only be speaking English during Saturday’s encounter – “I got a D in GCSE French” – but his studies are continuing via an online degree in business management and leadership through Northumbria University.

“You see what type of player I am and you see a lot of that in leaders. The main thing for me as a leader is that you perform well. That’s most of the battle. You must do the things you’re talking about,” Farrell said.

Jones has made three personnel changes against France, dropping Mike Brown and Jonathan Joseph in favour of Anthony Watson and Ben Te’o and replacing Hartley with Jamie George.

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