Stringer: Ireland will target 'hothead' Owen Farrell

The retired scrum-half played with England’s stand-in captain at Saracens.

Owen Farrell in action during England's Autumn Series Test against Australia.
Owen Farrell in action during England's Autumn Series Test against Australia.
Image: Paul Harding

PETER STRINGER HAS said Ireland will look to get under the skin of ‘hothead’ England captain Owen Farrell in the team’s Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium. 

The build-up to Saturday’s match, which sees Ireland up against an improving England at the start of a year culminating with the World Cup in Japan, has been stoked by a series of pointed comments from both sides.

Former Ireland scrum-half Stringer, who played alongside fly-half Farrell at English giants Saracens in 2011, said that while the fly-half was a fine player, “you can rattle him.”

Rugby Union - Aviva Premiership - Saracens v Bath - Vicarage Road Peter Stringer in action for Saracens in 2011, where he played with Owen Farrell. Source: Tony Marshall

Stringer’s remarks on Tuesday came on the back of England head coach Eddie Jones promising “brutality” from his side at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, while his defence coach John Mitchell told the BBC that Ireland will “try to bore” England to death.

Ireland are favourites to prevail having beaten England in their last two meetings and won 11 out of 12 Tests last year, including a historic home victory over world champions New Zealand.

“Eddie will have them fired up, and you see the likes of Owen Farrell: he’s in charge of everything they do, being captain and having all that responsibility, but he is a hothead,” said 41-year-old Stringer, speaking at a sponsor’s event in Dublin.

“I’ve played with him, he loves that physical side of things, but you can get under his skin, you can rattle him. He is a guy they’ll be looking to get after.”

Stringer, who was no shrinking violet himself during a stellar career which included a 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam, said Farrell’s fragile temperament was a serious weakness in a captain.

“If things go well for Farrell, on the front foot he’s a great player but going backward he’s a guy who loses the rag completely, which you don’t want from your captain,” he explained.

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Stringer, who formed a world-class half-back partnership with Munster team-mate fly-half Ronan O’Gara for the bulk of his career, said it was all very well to promise “brutality” but warned several other England players could be provoked into losing their cool.

“You can get under a lot of these guys, you can rattle them. Ireland’s discipline is very good, England’s not so much — they’ll be looking to start a scrap at every opportunity, just to rattle Ireland,” said Stringer.

“It’s going to be intriguing, and how Ireland deal with it will be fascinating, because that brutal nature England always bring will be heightened this year.

“They’ll be hurting, they won’t want to see Ireland doing well and going to the World Cup as favourites.”

© – AFP, 2019   

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