Should England win the World Cup, captain Owen Farrell will be the international player of the year.
Farrell is to England what Dan Carter was to New Zealand. He was nominated as the world’s best in 2012, 2016 and 2017. He was named European Player of the Year in 2017 and if ever it was his year, as the best in the world, then it is 2019.
Farrell, appointed England captain in 2018, has been fantastic at the World Cup. He has consistently been impressive since making his Test debut in 2012. Farrell’s father, Andy, is the next coach of Ireland and is a legend of rugby league. Andy also played for England in the 2007 World Cup final against the Springboks.
The father-son combination also have the unique distinction of having played professional rugby together, given Andy’s youthful age (16) when Owen was born.
Farrell is the heartbeat of England and his rugby league background has added steel to an England side already being compared with the best of the best.
Farrell, who is equally comfortable at flyhalf or inside centre, will be critical to England’s push for a second World Cup title.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is among those who applauded the qualities of Farrell. Whenever I have spoken to Erasmus about England, he has spoken about the brilliance of Farrell.
“He is tough,” said Erasmus. “He certainly inherited his physicality from his father, when it comes to rugby. But he is also a great goalkicker, calm under pressure and an outstanding leader. He is one of the best rugby players in the world, and he has been for some time.”
Farrell’s exploits for England don’t need explaining, but any story on Farrell would be incomplete if Jack Johnson’s name wasn’t mentioned.
Johnson is the son of Andy Johnson, who played rugby league with Andy Farrell at Wigan. Young Jack has duchenne muscular dystrophy, a terminal muscle-wasting disease, and Owen Farrell has become the biggest ambassador for Jack.
Whenever Farrell scores, he celebrates by linking his index fingers together to make a “JJ” sign, to showcase the “Joining Jack Salute”. The charity is dedicated to those who suffer from duchenne muscular dystrophy. To date, the charity has raised in excess of R40million.
Farrell held the record of the youngest player in England professional rugby, making his debut for Saracens 11 days after his 17th birthday. George Ford, who will most likely play inside Farrell in Saturday’s final against the Boks, broke the record when making his debut for Leicester Tigers.
Farrell, who has played 82 matches for England and four for the British & Irish Lions, is closing in on 1 000 international points scored.
England coach Eddie Jones raved about Farrell’s rugby intelligence and his ability to influence the outcome of matches, be it for England or Saracens.
Jones described Farrell as a “warrior” and the father of the group.