England captain Owen Farrell will not be available for the Six Nations

England captain Owen Farrell will not be available for the Six Nations as the fly-half takes a break from international rugby to focus on his and his family’s mental well-being

  • Saracens have confirmed that Owen Farrell will miss the Six Nations next year 
  • Ellis Genge is the front-runner to replace him after Courtney Lawes’ retirement 
  • CHRIS FOY WORLD OF RUGBY: Rugby is in peril if it turns its back on free TV

England will need a new captain for the Six Nations and the foreseeable future after Saracens announced that Owen Farrell has decided to take a break from his international career ‘to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being’.

The shock development means that the 32-year-old Test centurion, who led England during their recent World Cup campaign – after returning from a suspension – will not be available for selection for the Six Nations early next year. 

His future with England is unclear but his club have clarified that ‘he will continue to play for Saracens and captain the club’. 

In a short statement, the Premiership champions went on to add: ‘As always, Owen will have the full support of everyone at the club.’

Farrell over-took Jonny Wilkinson’s national Test points record during the global showpiece in France and he went on to be the tournament’s top points-scorer. 

Owen Farrell is set to take a leave from international rugby to prioritise his family’s mental well-being

Fans of both England and rival nations subjected the English 10 to extreme hostility in every fixture he took part in

However, he endured a tough time as fans of England and rival nations subjected the fly-half to extreme hostility in every fixture he took part in. It reached the stage where Farrell would be booed loudly whenever he appeared on the big screen or his name was read out.

While the Red Rose skipper played down the situation, it is bound to have registered with him and will have been difficult to come to terms with, especially when his family were in attendance at matches. 

Prior to the World Cup, Owen’s father, Andy Farrell, had lashed out at the vilification of his son when Farrell Jnr was suspended amid a fierce backlash following another high tackle incident.

England head coach Steve Borthwick must now assess what happens next in terms of the captaincy and who will wear the No 10 shirt. 

With Courtney Lawes retired, Ellis Genge is likely to be the front-runner to lead the national team, while George Ford is the front-runner to occupy the fly-half place in the starting XV.

Borthwick reacted to the dramatic development by offering staunch support to Farrell, saying: ‘Everyone at England Rugby is fully behind Owen’s decision. Since making his debut, he has been an integral part of the England set-up for over a decade and the demands on elite athletes are extremely challenging. 

‘He is an exemplary player, captain and leader, and always gives his all for his country.

‘It is with typical courage that Owen has made this decision to open up in this manner. Together with all of us at England Rugby, I will do everything I can to ensure that he has the support he requires going forward.’

Farrell could yet return to the international fold in the future after some time away 

England head coach Steve Borthwick piled praise on his captain’s shoulders, hailing Farrell as an ‘exemplary player, captain and leader’

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