Owen Farrell expects to play in Six Nations opener

With just under two days to go before England face Ireland in Dublin, Owen Farrell has declared he is confident he’ll feature at the Aviva Stadium.

The Guinness Six Nations opener pits the two heavyweights together in what promises to be an enthralling encounter, and the England captain believes he’ll be part of coach Eddie Jones’ plans.

Farrell injured his thumb a couple of weeks ago and underwent surgery on the 19th January, with his club Saracens confirming he’ll need seven to ten days to recover fully.

Farrell and Jones’ comments

“The hand is good. I had something small done to it on the weekend,” Farrell said at the Six Nations launch in south west London, via the Irish News.

“I should be training towards the end of this week. It was a gradual thing and is something small.”

Farrell’s words will breathe confidence into the rest of the England squad as well as the fans, who’ll be desperate to see their star man come match day. The fly-half went on to say he’s certain he’ll be ready to feature in time: “I’m confident, yes.”

England are already without co-captain Dylan Hartley, so Farrell’s inclusion will be imperative if Jones’ side are to get off to a winning start. The Australian coach also commented on Farrell’s fitness concerns, but remains just as confident as the player himself that he’ll be available. “I’m confident Owen is going to play and we’ve got George [Ford] there as well so we’re well stocked for 10s,” Jones said.

“We get together today (Wednesday). If we trained today we’d have 34 out of 36 available because a couple are still sore after the weekend,” he added.

Options available

If Farrell isn’t passed fit in time, England will need to look at alternatives to captain the side in Dublin. Naturally, George Ford looks like a suitable fit after he skippered England in the autumn internationals against Japan.

Other candidates to fill the No.10 role come in the shape of Henry Slade and Danny Cipriani, with the latter not being selected in Jones’ original team of 35. Question marks still surround Cipriani’s future with the national side but he remains an option nonetheless.

Slade has made great strides at his club Exeter and although he has never played fly-half in a test, Jones may well have to give him his first run out in that role.

Whoever Jones opts for, they’ll need to be primed and ready to face an Irish side who are considered the best team in the world right now, alongside New Zealand.

A victory in Dublin will be absolutely massive for the visitors, who’ll likely damage the morale of Joe Schmidt’s side and gain a huge physiological advantage with a win as well. If you’re feeling confident of an England win, you can bet on Six Nations matches on Betfair right now, with over ten markets available to choose from including the Grand Slam winner and Triple Crown winner.