Rugby Union


Jamie George defends Owen Farrell after critical Hamilton remark

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Owen Farrell has been passed fit to face Scotland at the setting for his Test debut knowing he will line up alongside the boyhood friend who was present as a fan when his England career began.

Farrell has recovered from an unspecified lower leg injury and will take part in Tuesday’s double training session that is to be watched by Stuart Pearce, Les Ferdinand, Hope Powell and Scot David Moyes.

Six years ago Farrell won the first of 59 caps at Murrayfield and was supported from the stands by Saracens team-mate Jamie George, who will also be in action in Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash with Scotland.

George has seen the England playmaker develop from a “big lad from Wigan” into one of the sports greatest players.

“I was at his first international appearance in 2012. I was randomly at a 21st birthday, but I was in the stadium when we won 13-6 – it was a thriller,” George said.

“That was a great experience for me, Murrayfield is an amazing stadium and a great experience to watch one of my mates get their first cap.

“We grew up together and started playing together when we were 14. We’re really good mates – I’m an usher at his wedding – but we were different when he first came down to Saracens.

“He was a big lad from Wigan and I was a posh guy from Hertford, but we soon hit it off.

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“I’m very lucky to work with him day in, day out. It’s his maturity that’s the main thing that he’s worked on.

“He’d say himself that he was pretty raw when he first started international rugby but the way he’s developed as a leader and as a player…..he’s shown that he’s one of the best players in the world.

“He’s constantly evolving his game. He himself says that he’s a 10 but when he plays at 12 he picks incredible lines. It’s another string to his bow.”

Former Scotland and Saracens lock Jim Hamilton offered his own insight into Farrell in a newspaper column on Sunday, praising his ability while adding that “because he was driven purely by performance, I sometimes found him a difficult team-mate”.

George, however, offers a different perspective on Hamilton’s comment.


“Jim can be difficult. What Jim is probably alluding to is that Owen has very high standards,” George said.

“Jim was probably at the end of his career where he wanted a free ride but he wasn’t getting that at Saracens.”

George continues to provide hooker cover for England captain Dylan Hartley from the bench despite being the British and Irish Lions’ first choice in the position against New Zealand last summer.

“There may be polls on social media, but it’s more my own and the opinion of my team-mates around me that I care about. I’ve loved every minute of the campaign so far,” he said.

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