Steve Borthwick hopes Farrell will return soon

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epa10463604 England's Rugby Union head coach Steve Borthwick reacts ahead of the Six Nations Rugby Union match between England and Italy, in London, Britain, 12 February 2023. EPA/ANDY RAIN
  • Post published:January 5, 2024

England coach Steve Borthwick believes Owen Farrell will play for England again after the mercurial flyhalf took an indefinite break from international rugby ahead of this year’s Six Nations.

Farrell has received online abuse and was booed by his own fans at the Rugby World Cup in France, despite finishing the tournament as the leading scorer and taking England ever so close to a semifinal win over the Springboks.

He announced he will be taking a break from the international game and put no timeframe on a possible return.

“The first thing I’ll say is that I’m full of admiration for this guy, as a man, a player and a leader,” Borthwick said. “It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s done.

“In England alone we’ve seen a player – the captain – and two match officials step away at the top of their game because of certain issues. There are societal issues here that are going on. The online hate that is spread is not ok, it’s not right.

“I am really hopeful he does (return). This is one of England’s greatest-ever players, greatest-ever captains. I made it really clear there is no pressure on him, that’s his decision, at the time that’s right for him.

“Any team in the world would miss an Owen Farrell but the work he has done to help create a foundation over these last months, to help re-set the England team and move forward, that is part of his legacy through this tournament.”

Borthwick believes his side can kick on after their surprise run to third place at the World Cup and despite the absence of Farrell and the retiring Courtney Lawes.

“Just over 12 months ago I said that this England team had no area of its game that was within the top few teams in world rugby. That was the reality,” he said.
“What’s happened is building that foundation to make the team competitive and I think I think everybody can see that’s what’s happened.

“Now you need to keep strengthening that foundation and to evolve and develop – this is the next stage. There are some changes in the coaching team, changes with some players and there will be some changes tactically, that’s a necessary part as we as we build.

“From my point of view, I think it’s exciting to look forward to what those next steps are.”