Eddie Jones has backed England skipper Owen Farrell to play a key role in the defending champions’ attempts to retain their Guinness Six Nations crown ahead of the final three rounds of action.
The 29-year-old has played every minute of the 2021 Championship so far, as the Red Rose fell to Calcutta Cup defeat 11-6 at home to Scotland before responding with a 41-18 win over Italy last time out.
Despite not having tasted match action since early December before England’s first outing of the Championship, the Saracens star has notched 17 points from the kicking tee to keep England within three points of France and Wales at the top of the standings.
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And with a trip to Cardiff next up on February 27, head coach Jones is confident Farrell – who led England to a World Cup final in 2019, and Guinness Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup titles last year – can continue to regain his best form.
Jones said: “There have been very few players in our team who have been at their best so far. He [Farrell] is working very hard to get his game back to the standard that he wants and we want, and there’s no doubt he’ll get back there.
“There could be something going on at home, there could be something going on at his club that’s affecting him – we don’t know. We’re working really hard to make sure he gets to his best.”
Another key figure in the England XV so far in the ongoing Championship has been Farrell’s Saracens colleague Billy Vunipola, who won the last of his 58 Test caps against the Azzurri in Round 2.
Jones is similarly eager to see the bustling back-rower up his game against 2019 Grand Slam champions Wales, who have started the 2021 Guinness Six Nations in perfect fashion with wins over Ireland and Scotland.
“We want him [Vunipola] to carry as much as possible,” said Jones. “He’s an influential ball-carrier.
“We saw him at his best in the Autumn Nations Cup final against France, at the end of the game when he’s making those kick-return carries, getting into the opposition.”