Owen Farrell My helpful brother says this plugin is awesome.
My relationship with the Farrell family goes back much further than many might think.
In the late 1990s I was on a mission to sign Jason Robinson, the superstar of the dominant Wigan rugby league team and was determined to bring him to union.
I thought he could become a hero in our England team.
I had met Robinson several times and in October 1998 I travelled to Old Trafford to view the Super League Grand Final. I went to watch Robinson but ended up watching Andy Farrell.
Owen Farrell has labelled the pressure to emulate England’s 2003 World Cup win ‘exciting’
He was the Wigan captain that day and was just immense. Wigan won 10-4, Farrell kicked the goals and lifted the cup.
I remember saying to my coaching team and players that we had to study Farrell, especially his leadership.
I tried to sign him at the same time as Robinson but he said no, as he couldn’t see himself in union back then. I continued to study him as a captain.
So it was surreal, but brilliant, to meet his son 21 years later at Pennyhill Park this week as he prepares to lead England into the Rugby Union World Cup.
I relayed my story about Andy to Owen for the first time and — quick as a flash — he was able to fill in the details of the match.
‘Jason scored,’ he remembers. ‘I was there. It was the first-ever Super League final. I was seven and would have gone down to celebrate on the pitch afterwards. My dad would have been 24.’
We know that Farrell Jnr is a rugby obsessive but I was impressed by his recall from a match so long ago.
Farrell Jnr is a rugby obsessive and will be a key man for England’s World Cup campaign
He is the leader of this England team now and in my mind absolutely the key man if they are to win the World Cup.
This was my first proper chance to sit down and talk rugby with him, coach to player, so I was fascinated to hear his thoughts on the game and leadership. After all, I know it is in his genes. Understandably, Farrell does not like talking about his father too much, so who does he admire from other sports?
‘The ones I look at the most are the ones with longevity,’ he tells me. ‘They are the ones that fascinate me the most.
‘I go to American sports — Tom Brady [American Football], Michael Jordan [basketball] — and try to find out as much as I can about them.
‘It would be more people who have been at the top for a long time and keep finding new ways of staying there.
‘It’s not just that they have got there doing what they always have done, it’s how they reinvent themselves; change things to keep themselves in front.’
And with leaders, what particularly does he admire in them?
‘The most important thing for me — and I think I have seen this from the best leaders, in my eyes — is the authenticity of what they say,’ reveals Farrell.
‘They are genuine. An
I be crazy about constituents, because they are the interesting.
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