Sunday , April 18 2021

Farrell's move suggests that Jones & # 39; England could be a one man team

Owen Farrell. Photo: Paul Childs / Reuters
Owen Farrell. Photo: Paul Childs / Reuters

Eddie Jones was able to smile after the scare against Japan for many reasons. For starters, England avoided becoming another scalp on the album Brave Blossoms, which now gives them a strong chance to end the autumn campaign by three to four.

He watched his side recover from a lousy first time to beat the second by a stunning 25 to 0, and received a timely reminder of what George Ford can do, since he helped change the game with a captain's performance – do not mention a promising debut performance from powerhouse Joe Cokanasiga.

But there was still cause for concern in the back of his mind. In that first half, the performance was among the worst in England during the Australian season, with one side showing 11 new faces from the previous week being "seduced" by Danny Care's first attempt to believe they would be in an easy day at the office.

His response to this was to send Owen Farrell. Of course this is an obvious move, given that the 26-year-old is currently playing at a level that few around the world can match. But it also raises an uncomfortable question: has England become a one-man team?

The answer, according to Jones, was as close to admission as possible. But, as he explained, this may not be a bad thing.

"Well, if I were Japan and had Michael Leitch off the field, I'd be a bit worried too," Jones said.

"If I were with Owen Farrell out of the field, I'd be a little worried. If I were to go to Ireland with (Johnny) Sexton out of the field, I'd be a little worried.

"(Of Farrell) an influential player. Of course he is important to us.

"Obviously the standard was not acceptable, but it was a great learning game for us and that's what we wanted it to be.

"I was so pleased that Japan came into the game with such an aggressive attitude, I wanted them to take us in. We chose an experimental team to be tested and we took the test, so we had to respond and the response was absolutely fantastic."


It is a symbol of Farrell's growing importance. The move to fly in half, promotion to co-captain, is all an acceptance by Jones that he is the man he needs to build his team if he wants to have any chance of defeating Ireland, New Zealand and all other comers for the World Cup next year.

Jones instructed Farrell to change England's attitude towards the game by sending him to Alex Lozowski, who seemed to be feeling the effects of four weeks without a rugby after a recent suspension.

Along with Henry Slade, in the injured Chris Ashton, Farrell managed to give England more guidance, which in turn opened opportunities for those around him – particularly George Ford – to explore the defense of Japan.

"I thought there would always be a reaction to that first half," Farrell said.

"I felt like that, especially when we got to the break. I felt like we would leave and play from the break."

"I'm happy to do my job for the team. It's not always easy to watch, but I liked it.

"(Our attitude was) probably a bit off, and in the Rugby Test match, that's massive. It seemed to make that attempt sooner than we get out of there, but it does not always happen like that."

It's understandable to see Jones try to build on Farrell's attributes – his ball skill, clash defense, and leadership skills across the board – and, as he notes, it happens all over the world. Would England be world champion if Clive Woodward had not done the same with Jonny Wilkinson? It is doubtful.

The only question is what England does without Farrell in case the wound or any other reason appears to make it unavailable.

The next week's final against Australia will be England's last game before the Six Nations – a championship that requires coaches to select their best teams – leaving England with no more chances of leaving Farrell in an effort to discover a plan B until the Rugby World Cup warm-ups in August and September of next year.

By now, it will be too late to do so, leaving Jones to face the very real scenario that England will go to Japan next year, being a one-man team.

Independent Irish

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