After a four-month layoff, Saracens’ Owen Farrell is set to return to action on Saturday.
Following surgery on his right ankle, the England skipper missed the entire Six Nations season but has been exercising with his teammates for the past two weeks. Farrell should be able to play in his first game since November unless he suffers another “freak injury,” as England head coach Eddie Jones dubbed the last one. “We will check him tomorrow and Friday to ensure everything is fine,” Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said. “I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll be able to play.”
“Everyone recognizes him as a fantastic player. It’s also great for him because he enjoys playing rugby but hasn’t had much opportunity to do so. If he does play, he is ecstatic, and we are thrilled to welcome him back.” If this happens, it can signal a big shift in the sports betting community’s predictions.
Saracens will face Bristol at Tottenham Stadium in a bid to narrow the gap on Leicester at the top of the Premiership standings to just 12 points. The club’s press officer confirmed this, over 40,000 tickets have already been purchased. Those in attendance will almost certainly witness a powerful Saracens squad as all of England’s returnees, according to McCall, are also available for selection.
Jamie George, a hooker, is one of them, and he is about to play his 250th game for the club. Another is Nick Isiekwe, a 23-year-old lock who returned to international rugby this year after a four-year sabbatical in the Six Nations.
“Nick was capped early, perhaps a little too early on reflection, and had a number of terrible experiences, notably away in South Africa when he played there,” McCall said, referring to England’s 42-39 loss in Johannesburg in 2018. “Now that he’s 23, he’s a lot more qualified. He’s at the top of his game, far more mature and self-assured.”
Despite their problems during a disastrous campaign under Jones, McCall praised his England players: “Our guys have a history of coming back strong. We’re also aware that, particularly in the last two games they’ve played, they’ve taken an emotional toll.
“Being down to 14 men against Ireland and performing the way they did and being a part of the moment on Saturday [the Paris defeat (25-13)], we’re extremely aware that they’re human people, not robots, and that we shouldn’t expect them to go straight from international rugby to club rugby.”
Farrell, on the other hand, is one of the few England players whose profile has risen in recent months, and he will be eager to reclaim his position as the team’s anchor. McCall is certain that he will.
“It’s easy to reminisce about the past and figure out that [he] usually fits in quite fast,” McCall said. “There’s no doubt he has the ability to hit the ground running. I believe we all need to be patient and understand that his finest rugby will most likely not come on Saturday, but in the weeks ahead.”