Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes has slammed Owen Farrell on his return from injury, labelling the Saracens star as a ‘liability’ following his high tackle against Bristol Bears.
Barnes was not impressed, writing in the Times : “For all the questions asked about Marcus Smith’s lack of size and perceived defensive weaknesses, Eddie Jones’s first-choice England captain has returned to the sport with the same tackling issues as he left it.
“There was not even a hint of arm-wrapping, which would have offered a display of legality. It wasn’t a swinging arm and it wasn’t malicious but if he commits a similar infringement in Australia this summer, England could find themselves in trouble.
“He’s as hard as nails. But until he can warn roaming forwards and charging centres out of his defensive corridor with the controlled violence of Jonny Wilkinson, his non-tackling technique is more of a negative than a positive.
“A solid shoulder seems a strange aspect to single out but the Test game is hugely aware of its audience and the obsession with health and safety occasionally borders on the paranoid. The game will ensure it does its best to protect players from Farrell’s edgy aggression; maybe even from himself.”
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Five things you didn’t know about England and Saracens captain 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.