In an interview with TNT Sports, ex-Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg expressed deep sadness over the unfavorable narrative surrounding England captain Owen Farrell.
Hogg, who has personally faced negative headlines following his recent separation from his wife, spoke out against the perceived unfair treatment of Farrell.
Hogg said on TNT’s live broadcast: “It’s desperately sad for him because he’s a quality player and there’s an unfair narrative around [him], if I’m being brutally honest.
“Like everything in life now, you can do 95% of things spot on, and you’re judged on the 5% of things you’re working on or could potentially do better. That’s unfair.
“I really do feel for him because I know him as a person and as a player. The perception of him is a tough competitor; an absolute legend, leader of the game.
“Off the field, he’s an absolute gentleman. He’s there to share and make coffees for the boys, have glasses of wine with everybody, being in and amongst all the craic.
“I’m gutted for him and wish him all the very best because I want to see him playing his best rugby possible.”
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NIGEL OWENS DREAM XV:
Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)
Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.
“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.
“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”
Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.
“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.
“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”
Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.
“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”
Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)
Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.
“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”
Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)
Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.
“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.
“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”