Owen Farrell’s non-playing role, the latest on Tom Curry


Richard Wigglesworth has shed light on the influence of Owen Farrell heading into this Saturday’s Summer Nations Series clash with Ireland on Saturday. The England skipper was freed to play with immediate effect by an independent disciplinary hearing verdict on Tuesday after his red card against Wales last weekend was downgraded to yellow.

However, World Rugby have since decided to appeal that decision and with Farrell having missed much of his team’s training on Monday and Tuesday, Steve Borthwick decided not to select him against the Irish even though the head coach’s masterplan for the entire Summer Nations Series was for the skipper to play in this fixture.

Farrell has still travelled with the England squad to Dublin and he took part in their captain’s run training session at the Aviva Stadium on Friday afternoon.

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Having walked out of the tunnel chatting with him prior to the session, assistant coach Wigglesworth was asked if Farrell might be on water boy duties or have some other specific non-playing matchday role to fill to help the team.

“I don’t think he is on any of those duties from what I understand but he is captain of the squad, so he always has an impact on the players around him in a positive way,” explained Wigglesworth.

“He has led Courtney (Lawes) lead this week because he wasn’t around for part of the week and the sort of leader he is he knows that Courtney is leading on the field tomorrow [Saturday] so he has let him get on with it, but he has been as helpful and as into it as he always is.”

Tom Curry was also involved in the on-pitch captain’s run session. Along with fellow injury-rehabber Jack Walker and the recently called-up Alex Mitchell, the Sale back-rower is one of three players in the Rugby World Cup squad of 33 yet to play in England’s four-game Summer Nations Series.

He recently had his ankle in a protective moon boot but is now mobile again. “He is going well,” reported Wigglesworth. “You saw him out on the pitch running today so he will be nearing a training return for us.”

Might he be available to face Fiji on August 26, the last England warm-up match before their World Cup campaign begins with the September 9 game against Argentina in Marseille?

“I’m not sure, he has not been in team training so I am guessing it will be a medics decision on how early he comes back into full team training and then how much of that he gets done before we potentially see him in a Test match.”

There was also mention of Mitchell. Having been cut from the England training squad at the end of June, he called back up on Monday in place of Jack van Poortvliet who will be unavailable for the finals following the ankle injury sustained in last Saturday’s win over Wales.

Asked how he has settled on, Wigglesworth said: “Really well, he is a popular member of the squad. We were all devastated for Jack, but Alex has come in, slotted in really well. He has been in with us at the start of camp so there was nothing massively new to him. He is the sort of personality that comes in and cracks on.”

It’s 21 weeks since England were beaten 29-16 by Ireland in Dublin, a Guinness Six Nations finale in which Borthwick’s team were forced to mostly play with 14 players following the red-carding of Freddie Steward.

That red card was rescinded and downgraded to yellow at a subsequent disciplinary hearing – and it hasn’t been forgotten by the full-back.

Asked if that 13-point defeat had featured in this week’s build-up, the assistant coach replied: “No, just that incident which is obviously pretty personal to Fred because it got overturned but no, not overly, no.”

Ireland have named 11 starters from that Grand Slam-clinching win to take on an English XV with seven repeat starters from March. How might it go for them 21 weeks after that defeat?

“I have seen a very determined England squad, that is for sure,” reported Wigglesworth. “They have been incredibly professional, diligent. They want to show what they are all about.

“We just want to attack well. We just want to use the ball as efficiently as we can, which is what happens when you attack well. You make errors with the ball and you think you are not going to get in any sort of rhythm – and it is going to look not so pretty. It’s through no lack of endeavour. I’m pretty confident we will get it right.”





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