Farrell to the fore as Saracens triumph again
29 May, 2023, 8:08 am
LONDON (Reuters) – Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall poured praise on man of the match Owen Farrell after the flyhalf inspired the London club to a 35-25 victory over a gritty Sale in the English Premiership final on Saturday.
The game had been widely billed as a showdown between Farrell and opposite number George Ford but Farrell was head and shoulders ahead of his long-time friend and rival as his masterclass of passing and tactical kicking led his team to the title for the sixth time.
“For us to have him as leader… if you had been at our training this week you wouldn’t believe how influential he is, how clear he is, the standards he sets and the how supportive he is of everyone else – and he’s playing the best rugby of his life,” McCall said.
“Today, when the game was in the balance and we maybe lacked a bit of energy, our senior players grasped it and we regained a lot of control and Owen was at the centre of that.”
Farrell, as ever, played down his own contribution and instead chose to focus on the atmosphere at the club who won their first title for four years having come through demotion for their salary cap breaches and after losing to Leicester in the last minute of last year’s decider.
“It feels important to win but what’s more important is how we’ve been all season,” he said. “That difference was there at the start of the year, raising the ceiling of where we can go, and regardless of today it still feels as if there is a lot ahead for this team.
“This club is a place you want to fight for and a special place to be. What’s been created is a place that nobody wants to leave. The number of players who have been here for 10 or 15 years – that’s outstanding.”
The final was a farewell for two of them – Jackson Wray and Duncan Taylor – and Farrell was keen to heap praise on two of the squad who have been an integral part of their success for so long without perhaps gaining the accolades of some of their team mates.
“They are exactly what I was talking about in terms of culture,” Farrell said. “I can’t imagine this place without them and we are going to have to work hard to fill their boots. They are unbelievable people, who you trust, who you know are going to turn up every single day, let along every single weekend.
“It’s exciting to replace them but I can’t speak highly enough of them.”