Stuart Barnes ridicules England following Owen Farrell setback
By Rugby Onslaught

Stuart Barnes ridicules England following Owen Farrell setback

The breaking news to emerge form the England camp this morning is that captain and fly-half Owen Farrell has tested positive for Covid-19.

The RFU said in a statement that “he will remain in isolation and will be LFT and PCR tested again today,” and that “all other player and staff PCR test results received are negative and England are continuing preparations for tomorrow’s match against Tonga.”

The obvious solution for almost all England fans would be for Marcus Smith to move up from the bench to start at No10 should Farrell be unavailable, as many wanted him to start in the first place. Eddie Jones said that the precocious Harlequins star was picked on the bench as an injury limited his training time this week, but these are exceptional circumstances.

However, already the England coaching staff have flirted with other options, which and have listed George Furbank as an option at fly-half, who is also on the bench.

Columnist Stuart Barnes took this situation that is unfolding to have a swipe at the England coaching set up and their sometimes arcane selections. He wrote on Twitter: “The obvious solution if Farrell is out must be to play Joe Marler at ten. He has lots of experience and has dramatically improved his all round game in recent years.” Jones has never been shy to play players out of position slightly, often citing the two reasons Barnes gave as his reason why; Tom Curry’s move to No8 is an example of this. Suggesting playing Marler at fly-half is just ridiculing that policy.

Barnes went on to emphasise that while he highly rates Furbank, he is not a good option in the No10 jersey as he primarily plays at fullback for Northampton Saints. He said: “[Furbank] is a very fine, inventive player who is comfortable on the gain line and could do a decent job as a makeshift ten but he is NOT a very good option.”

At this moment in time, there is no clarity as to what will happen with the Farrell situation.