Rugby Union


Eddie Jones backs Owen Farrell to make the right impression with England

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Eddie Jones believes Owen Farrell will rule by fear after comparing the England captain’s leadership style to that of Australia great George Gregan.

Farrell has replaced Dylan Hartley as skipper for next month’s tour to South Africa while the Northampton hooker takes an extended break from the sport to recover from concussion.

Jones wants the Saracens playmaker to stamp his own authority on England and envisages him inspiring through his forceful nature as well as deeds on the pitch.

“Owen is a completely different character to Dylan. He has a different cultural background. Dylan is from Rotorua, Owen is from Wigan,” the head coach said.

“They think about things differently, they look at things differently. Owen will put his own stamp on the team. And we want him to do that.

“George Gregan was fantastic. I have never seen a stronger winner than him. He demanded stuff from the team and they were frightened not to give it to him. He was super on the field but not as good off it.”

When asked if Farrell’s style mirrors Gregan’s, Jones replied: “That is probably close to the mark and so we need to find people who can work off the field to help Owen.”

Gregan was among the three greatest captains Jones has overseen, completing a list that also features South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning figurehead John Smit and Japan skipper Michael Leitch.

In Jones’ eyes, the common ground shared by all three – and another Wallabies talisman in John Eales – is the time it took for them to develop into outstanding leaders, as it inevitably will for Farrell.

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“John Smit was more consultative than Gregan. He was able to bring three or four disparate groups together for a common purpose,” Jones said.

“He was brilliant at that, he challenged the coaches so he was very good on the field and very good off the field.

“Then Michael Leitch with Japan. Brilliant captain. I have never seen a bloke with more courage than him.

“Within Japan there are four or five different groups – Kiwis, Tongans etc – and he was able to bring them all together for a common purpose.

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“Each of them had to work at it, none of them started out great captains, they all started out relatively poor captains.

“Remember one of the greatest captains of all time, John Eales? When he was first captain of Australia his nickname was Optus. Optus is a telecommunication company and their catchphrase was ‘yes’.

“The players nicknamed him Optus because he said yes to everything. Obviously he wasn’t a great captain then, but he ended up being one of the talismanic captains.

“You think of World Cup captains and he’s up there. I’m sure Martin Johnson was the same when he first started.


“You don’t expect a captain immediately to be this all-conquering figure. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes patience.

“Owen has got the job for South Africa so he has five weeks to work through, find his own style, influence the team and we will see how he goes.”

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