Sara­cens plan­ning with­out Far­rell for Le­in­ster cup tie

Out­side-half faces ban af­ter red card for reck­less tackle Panel could side­line Eng­land cap­tain for 10 games or more

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Daniel Schofield deputy rugby cor­re­spon­dent

Sara­cens are re­signed to los­ing Owen Far­rell for their Cham­pi­ons Cup quar­ter-fi­nal against Le­in­ster.

The Eng­land cap­tain faces a dis­ci­plinary hearing tonight for his high tackle on Wasps’ Char­lie Far­rell was sent off in the 61st minute of Sara­cens’ 28-18 de­feat on Satur­day af­ter a reck­less swing­ing-arm tackle made contact with Atkin­son’s head.

At best, the panel would deem it a mid-level of­fence with an en­try point of a six-game ban, which is likely to be halved on ac­count of his rel­a­tively clean dis­ci­plinary record and in­stant dis­play of con­tri­tion.

So with Sara­cens fac­ing two Premier­ship matches, away to Sale to­mor­row and at home to Ex­eter on

Sun­day, Mark Mc­Call, the di­rec­tor of rugby, said Far­rell was al­most cer­tain to miss their trip to Dublin on Satur­day week.

“I think we can safely as­sume that Owen won’t be avail­able and we will plan as such,” Mc­Call said. “He’s in­cred­i­bly re­gret­ful. You saw him on the touch­line and he waited for Char­lie to get off the field. He was re­ally con­cerned for him.”

Should the in­de­pen­dent panel up­grade his red card to a high-level of­fence, which has an en­try point of 10 games, Far­rell could miss the start of Eng­land’s au­tumn matches, in­clud­ing the Six Na­tions fi­nale against Italy on Oct 31.

Mc­Call has not sought to ad­dress Far­rell’s tech­nique with him and pointed to his rel­a­tively blem­ish-free record. “As far as I know, this is his first red in 201 games for us,” Mc­Call said. “It speaks of a pretty good dis­ci­plinary record.”

Far­rell is not Sara­cens’ only con­cern for Le­in­ster, against whom Mc­Call says his team will be “mas­sive un­der­dogs”. Mako Vu­nipola has been suf­fer­ing with back spasms and is un­likely to play against Sale.

“It is lin­ger­ing longer than we hoped,” Mc­Call said. “We will make a de­ci­sion later in the week about whether he is fit to play against Ex­eter.” Mc­Call con­firmed that Far­rell would still be in­volved in help­ing the team pre­pare for the Le­in­ster show­down, “us­ing his in­tel­lect and rugby brain”. The al­ter­na­tives at fly-half are full-back Alex Goode or 20-year-old Manu Vu­nipola, although Mc­Call said that choice would be in­flu­enced by who is avail­able in the cen­tres, with Dun­can Tay­lor due to re­turn to­mor­row. “How Dun­can does will be im­por­tant,” Mc­Call said. “Ev­ery chal­lenge Manu has faced over th­ese eight or nine months has pre­pared him for mo­ments like this. He will be in our 23-man squad and we think he is ready.”

Re­gret­ful: Owen Far­rell was sent off against Wasps for a high tackle

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