England coach Eddie Jones says captain Owen Farrell has been correcting his technique while serving his five-match ban for a dangerous tackle.
Farrell was shown a red card for a clothesline tackle on Wasps teenager Charlie Atkinson while playing for Saracens in a Premiership clash back in September. Although the disciplinary panel concluded the tackle was a top-end offence with a suspension entry point of 10 matches, it was ultimately reduced to five due to mitigating circumstances.
The ban did, however, rule Farrell out of the rest of the domestic season, meaning he has played only 141 minutes since March ahead of England’s return to Test rugby, which starts with Saturday’s Quilter Cup match against the Barbarians.
It’s not the first time that Farrell has come under scrutiny for his tackling technique – he was also criticised after escaping sanction for a no-arms shoulder charge on Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen in 2018.
Jones, who gave a testimony of Farrell’s character during his latest disciplinary hearing, said they have put the incident in the past but added that he has reminded the flyhalf of his responsibilities as England captain.
‘Owen and I have ongoing conversations,’ Jones said. ‘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’s to be the best England captain he can be and that’s what he’s striving to do.
‘He’s always working on his tackle technique,’ Jones added. ‘I went to the gym this morning and I was walking through 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 tighter, which is for the welfare of the players and all of our players are conscious of their responsibility.’
England’s 32-man training squad to face the Barbarians has 11 uncapped players, including South African-born Northampton Saints lock David Ribbans, who Jones previously coached during his short stint as Stormers coach.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 20, 2020
Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA