Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes says that Owen Farrell should be dropped moving forward in a scathing rant targeted at the playmaker.
Writing in his column for The Times, Barnes claimed that the Premiership winner Smith is the “logical” choice: “Smith offers the ‘other’ option, the one Finn Russell brought to the third [Lions] Test.
“Smith is the English Russell. Like the Scot he is not a maverick. He’s an intelligent player with razor-sharp instincts. He has been trained to see things as they unravel in front of him. The antithesis of Farrell, who has appeared the ultimate game-plan player throughout the Jones years.”
“To play anyone but Smith this autumn would be to strip bare any talk of 2023 planning as empty rhetoric. Two years out from the World Cup, there is plenty of time for Farrell to reignite his case, back in the improving Premiership.
“But Smith has less time to grow into a Test match 10. All the evidence indicates he has the skill, nerve, wit and kicking boots to pull England from the mess of their own making.”
Barnes added that the captain decision would need to be addressed immediately: “Of course, there’s also the issue of a new captain. England need one.
“There is one in waiting and, after a summer break from the laptop, this is the first subject to be tackled.”
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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Owen Farrell
1. Almost joining Manchester United
In 2005, the 13-year-old Farrell had a trial at Old Trafford, and did enough to convince the club’s academy executives that the then goalkeeper deserved an extended spell with the club. Years later, they dressed him up as a goalkeeper on his stag fo.