Owen Farrell went into this year’s Six Nations being tipped as one of the potential Lions candidates on the upcoming tour to New Zealand. Despite a relatively poor kicking performance against Italy in the last round of fixtures, a lot of England’s hopes rest on the Saracens man and the potential world record-equalling win against Scotland may depend on his performance with the boot…if he’s passed fit to play.
Having been named in the starting line-up to play against the improving Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday, Farrell was forced to leave training early on Thursday due to what was originally described as a “leg injury” by the England coaching staff. As the press conference with coach Eddie Jones went on, it was soon revealed that the injury was sustained in one of the most bizarre ways possible.
Jones is known for taking his dog, Annie, to the training ground with him, and she was running around the wide open space when Farrell tripped over her resulting in the injury that has left him as a doubt to even feature in the game.
The Australian coach remained bullish that Farrell would be fit to not only play some part in the game, but to retain his starting place, something he will be given every chance to do as England will have up until an hour before kick-off to make a final decision on their team.
Farrell’s injury, if it does rule him out of the Calcutta Cup clash, would be a blow to England and their chances of equalling the world record for consecutive victories – keeping them on course for a second successive Grand Slam and retaining their Six Nations crown – but they do have options.
George Ford is already in the side at fly half and would take over the kicking duties, with Elliot Daly also able to take the penalties if required. Ben Te’o could move to centre in Farrell’s place and that would then open up a space in the squad for somebody else, probably Jonny May.
England still go into the game as favourites, regardless of the injury doubt that lingers over Farrell, and they have been boosted by the return to fitness of both Billy and Mako Vunipola who are named among the replacements.
Scotland are without Greig Laidlaw for the game at Twickenham which is a major blow for them. However, the victory against Wales two weeks ago will have given them plenty of confidence for the journey south of the border, and they would love nothing more than to prevent England from equalling the world record and putting a huge dent in their Six Nations Championship chances too.
Elsewhere this weekend, Wales and Ireland kick off proceedings on Friday night in Cardiff and Italy host France in Rome on Saturday lunchtime.