Farrell issues rallying cry for Saracens to end season on a high
England captain Owen Farrell has warned the rest of the Premiership that Saracens have no intention of hitting cruise control before their Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster.
The idea that Saracens have nothing to play for with their relegation already confirmed is anathema to a hyper-competitive individual such as Farrell. Certainly, they relished denting the play-off ambitions of Harlequins on Saturday. Quins only rescued their respectability in the final quarter as replacements, especially centre Paul Lasike for the visitors, altered the dynamic of the match.
Even without bragging rights on the line before their date against Leinster in Dublin on Sept 19, Farrell is adamant motivation will not be a problem for a group whose collective pride is a powerful weapon.
“We are building up,” Farrell said. “We want to not only build up to that game [Leinster] everyone says is our only competitive rugby that we are going to play – but that is not the case. We want to enjoy ourselves by getting stuck in together. There are a few lads that signed deals to finish this year off and we want to make sure we do the end of this year properly.”
Farrell delivered 18 points with the boot in a commanding performance in his first game since March and his 200th appearance for Saracens. Typically unsentimental, he seemed more pleased with the former than he did the latter.
“I have been here for a long, long time,” Farrell said. “I probably rocked up at the place before my 14th birthday so that is a long time. It is brilliant and the most exciting thing was to get back out playing.”
Saracens seemed to have put the game to bed in the first half as Sean Maitland, Maro Itoje and Aled Davies all crossed. Farrell’s boot kept Saracens in front before Alex Lewington scored their fourth try to make the game safe with five minutes remaining.
While Farrell, Billy Vunipola and especially Itoje delivered big performances, just as significantly for the club’s long-term future were maiden league starts for Elliott Obatoyinbo and prop Sam Crean.
Mark McCall, Saracens’ director of rugby, was only partly satisfied with the performance, even if they were missing Mako Vunipola, Richard Wigglesworth and Elliot Daly through injury. They have five more league fixtures before they face Leinster and McCall said: “We are very far away from that [standard] currently. But I’m not surprised, it has been a long lay-off.”
In command: Owen Farrell kicked 18 points