100th cap will barely register for ultimate team player Farrell

100th cap will barely register for ultimate team player Farrell
Owen Farrell is just the third England men's player to win 100 caps
Owen Farrell is just the third England men's player to win 100 caps
Owen Farrell (31) will become the third England men's player to win 100 caps when he plays against New Zealand but he has given the honour scant attention in the build up and it will be the last thing on his mind on Saturday.

Jason Leonard and Ben Youngs, who is on the bench at Twickenham hoping for his 120th cap, are the only others to reach the milestone.

Although he is enjoying some of the best flyhalf form of his career at Saracens, Farrell will start at inside centre at Twickenham, alongside number 10 Marcus Smith (23).

England coach Eddie Jones (62) used a similar set up with George Ford (29) at fly half, making no apology for ensuring a player he describes as the "ultimate test match animal" gets on the pitch.

"If we don't have Owen then we lose a huge percentage of our fight. He's the most energetic and one of the most committed rugby players I've ever seen," Jones said at the start of the November campaign.

Farrell's nerveless goalkicking has helped him amass 1,148 international points, behind only Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter, and at his age, he has plenty more to come.

But his point-scoring prowess is only a part of the story for a player who lifts and inspires those around him and always has done since making his England debut in 2012.

Former England scrum half Danny Care said that when he returned to the international fold he couldn't believe that the young new guy was completely bossing the show "in his own, direct Wigan way".

"I think he will probably go down as one of the best players to ever play for England," Care said on the BBC's Rugby Union Daily podcast.

"I don't think he's appreciated like he should be. I don't think you realise how good he is until you have been in a dressing room or on a pitch with him.

"It will only be when he stops playing that he gets the respect he really, truly deserves."

The son of former rugby league icon Andy Farrell - now coach of the Ireland union side - it was hardly surprising that Farrell grew up with a burning desire to win at anything and everything he was involved with.

His relentless commitment to improve and "drive standards" has been continually recognised by coaches, team mates and opponents. Hooker Jamie George has been a club and international teammate for 16 years and was unstinting in his admiration.

"He was entirely different to anything I've ever seen before in terms of his skill level, desire and the way that he approached the game," George said this week of his early encounter with a teenage Farrell.

"It made me completely rethink everything. Every day he's relentless, wants to get better and has a drive that is not just internal because he's desperate to make every team that he plays for better.

"Owen has changed the way that English rugby has been played. He changed the mindset of the team, giving us the belief to play against teams like the All Blacks."

One of the most iconic images of Farrell was his 'smirk' as England faced down the New Zealand haka ahead of the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Some felt it was disrespectful but most England fans appreciated it as a signal that he was unimpressed by the dance, or the "aura" that supposedly came with it.

Either way, England duly produced one of their greatest performances, blowing the All Blacks aside, with Farrell having a superb game.

Speaking about his 100 caps this week - he also has six for the British & Irish Lions - Farrell struggled to show any sort of excitement. Always "in control" when dealing with the media, he said any celebration was for his family and friends.

"The exciting thing is where this team is going and wanting to be a part of that," he said.

"I'm not too good at listening to stuff about myself. The sooner we get on with it the better."


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