England coach Eddie Jones has made it clear he won’t drop Owen Farrell despite his poor performance in the opening round of the Six Nations.
England, captained by Farrell, looked bereft of ideas and intensity as the suffered their first home loss to Scotland in 38 years. The flyhalf had a particularly poor performance by his standards, not being able to give his backline direction or impetus on attack.
Farrell’s tendency to kick away possession was widely bemoaned but Jones, while recognising he had an off day, came to his captain’s defence.
‘There are five-million situations in the game and we don’t coach five- million situations. Owen was disappointed with his performance against Scotland, like a number of players and like I was in my own performance and we’re all working to improve.’
In addressing speculation that he would consider dropping Farrell, Jones was unequivocal in his response.
‘Owen’s been a highly consistent, highly successful player for us. Like a number of players on Saturday, he wasn’t at his best. I know there’s a bandwagon. He’s an outstanding player and, like any outstanding player, they can have a game where they’re not at their best. Is that a reason to drop the player? I wouldn’t think so.
‘Having one game where they’re not at the level expected is not a reason to start speculating on whether he’s going to be dropped or not.’
Although Farrell himself appears to be safe, Jones did hint that he might be swinging the axe in other departments.
‘Every player’s up for selection. It’s all dependent on form – you look at historical form, present form and you have to make the right decisions for the team.’
England have added props Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola to their 28-man squad at the expense of Harry Williams and Tom West. The returning stalwarts will look to have an impact when England face Italy this weekend.