JONES: BEST DAYS AHEAD FOR FIFTY-CAP FAR­RELL

Sunday Express - - SPORT - By JIM HOLDEN CHIEF SPORTS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

OWEN FAR­RELL wins his 50th cap for Eng­land to­day, hav­ing be­come the heart­beat of the team in the so far in­vin­ci­ble regime of head coach Ed­die Jones.

That’s ob­vi­ous enough from the bril­liance of his per­for­mances dur­ing Eng­land’s cur­rent run of 16 con­sec­u­tive in­ter­na­tional wins, which should be­come 17 to­day against Six Na­tions makeweights Italy.

It is a re­al­ity con­firmed by the fo­cused con­ver­sa­tion of Jones. He doesn’t talk about the first 50 matches for Far­rell but the cer­tainty of the next 50 ahead.

No­body is guar­an­teed a place in the Eng­land team un­der Jones. He keeps telling us that in his com­bat­ive, di­rect way. Yet he also talks with a con­vic­tion that Far­rell is there to stay. Jones handed the Eng­land star his pro­fes­sional de­but when he was briefly the coach of Saracens back in 2008, and he knows his man. “You could tell when he was young that Owen would al­ways be a driven player – driven to be his best,” says Jones. “It was al­most in­evitable he would be a first-team player at Saracens. If you’ve got that amount of de­sire and a rea­son­able amount of nat­u­ral abil­ity, you are go­ing to be a good player. “But I don’t think he’s as good a player as he can be yet and that’s the great thing – be­cause his next 50 caps will be bet­ter than his first 50, much bet­ter. He is start­ing to de­velop an aura and that’s be­cause he is so con­sis­tent. Be­ing a great player is about be­ing con­sis­tent and that’s what we will see from him go­ing for­ward.” Far­rell has been de­scribed as a mix­ture of 2003 World Cup he­roes Martin John­son and Jonny Wilkin­son, per­haps the two great­est fig­ures of the English game. It is a com­par­i­son that Jones stamps on firmly. “I don’t think Owen should be com­pared to other play­ers,” he says. “He is Owen Far­rell and he is a dif­fer­ent player. I think he’ll be dis­ap­pointed that his win record from his first 50 Tests is less than Jonny Wilkin­son’s. I am go­ing to guar­an­tee that in his next 50 his win­ning record will be bet­ter than Jonny Wilkin­son’s.”

For the mo­ment Dy­lan Hart­ley is the Eng­land cap­tain. The strength of Jones’ words about Far­rell, the con­vic­tion that they will en­joy suc­cess in tan­dem, is a clear in­di­ca­tion of who will be the next skip­per.

One of the cu­ri­ous as­pects about Far­rell now is that he is play­ing at in­side cen­tre for Eng­land when his favoured club po­si­tion is fly-half.

That al­lows Jones to ac­com­mo­date Ge­orge Ford and pro­vides long-term op­tions for team de­vel­op­ment.

Far­rell is 25 and has ma­tured as an in­ter­na­tional, cut­ting out mo­ments of tem­per­a­men­tal folly from his early days.

“That comes with age,” says Jones. “Ev­ery­one is quite hot un­der the col­lar when they are young – you don’t have pa­tience. But you learn pa­tience and you get pa­tience with age.”

The edge hasn’t left him, though. “I want them to win, mate,” con­tin­ues Jones. “As long as they are do­ing every­thing that they can to win.

“You can do that in the most overt way, and be yelling and scream­ing and punch­ing your chest, or you can do it in a quiet way. Ei­ther way, it doesn’t mat­ter. You look at Ge­orge Ford and Owen Far­rell – there is no dif­fer­ence in their de­sire to win; one ex­presses it in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Yes, and the noisy one is the player des­tined to be the next Eng­land cap­tain, and the one guar­an­teed to reach 100 caps and more.

MILE­STONE MAE­STRO: Owen Far­rell will win his 50th Eng­land cap to­day

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