Owen Farrell today insisted the back injury that is keeping him out of the Saracens team is not serious and he is on course for a return to action in “ a couple of weeks.”
Farrell suffered a muscular injury in pre-season training and while he has only been able to begin contact work this week with the European and Aviva Premiership Rugby champions, he is quick to dismiss fears it is a serious problem that could affect his availability for England’s four Autumn tests at Twickenham.
Farrell was a key figure in Saracens historic season and helped England clinch the Grand Slam and then record a 3-0 series triumph over Australia Down Under to emphasis his importance to club and country. With The Wallabies turning up along with South Africa, Argentina and Fiji in November and December, England have the opportunity to remain unbeaten all year and cement their position as the No2 team in the world. That is vital with the rankings for the 2019 World Cup in Japan being used to sort out the pools in May next year.
Alex Lozowski made a 20 point debut at No10 for Sarries in their 35-3 win over Worcester and will be in the outside half position when the defending champions tackle Exeter at Sandy Park on Sunday in a repeat of the Premiership final.
Despite Lozowski’s impressive start, Sarries fans know that Farrell’s kicking is world class and the 24-year-old is eager to get back into action having enjoyed a much deserved holiday on the west coast of America before starting his pre-season work. He said:” I just tweaked my back in training and it’s no big deal and I will be back in a couple of weeks. It is muscular not structural and it is a case of doing work and then seeing if there is a reaction in the back. It is about symptoms rather than a timeline
“It is frustrating now that the lads are back playing in the Premiership but it would be worse if it was going to be longer, but I am just around the corner and so it’s not too bad. I am looking forward to getting back playing.”
Farrell, who has won 43 caps and scored 478 points, has been integral to England’s nine game unbeaten run this year and Sarries double triumph and while there is pride at those achievements, he has already reset his sights on the challenges of defending the double and the looming Autumn tests. He was at Twickenham for the win over Worcester, offering advice to team mates and trying not to look frustrated. A ferocious competitor by nature, Farrell has been forced to tailor his training to accommodate the restrictions of that back injury.
While he did take a well-earned break from rugby at the end of England’s historic whitewash of the Wallabies, he is much happier being back in the club environment at Sarries as the champions plot another successful campaign at home and in Europe.
“ I took time to have a holiday and spent a couple of weeks travelling down the west coach of America on a bit of a road trip and then got back home;”added Farrell, whose father Andy is now Ireland’s defence coach.” It’s brilliant to have won the double and remain unbeaten with England this year but we still have the Autumn tests to come. We met up as an England squad recently and the focus is on how we can get better and that means you can’t really sit back and take it all in.
“We have a really good group of lads at Sarries and we have good balance in the squad. We believe the best is yet to come and just have to work hard to make sure that happens. You don’t get ahead of yourself and the only focus for the club is the game at Exeter then we switch to Northampton and after that Harlequins. They are all big games.”
*Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund – a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from 13 September
In the Evening Standard 7-9-2016