James Lawton: England need dose of Farrell

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THE SUDDEN crisis of confidence in English rugby union, so soon after the glory of Sydney and the World Cup, is not without its comic undertones - not least in the implications of the pursuit of rugby league's superb forward Andy Farrell.

How much pride was buried, you have to wonder, as the union supplicants made their way to the heart of the great northern kraal of Wigan. How many measured insults were consigned to the fading history of class warfare?

Perhaps as many as those which came with Jason Robinson's successful transfer. Robinson cut to pieces a patronising welcome to a sport which not so long before would have marched him out of the most humble of club bars.

No doubt England would profit hugely from Farrell's arrival. He would, after all, come from a brilliantly administered sport in which hard-headed professionalism is something steeped in the blood. Despite vast player resources, the world champions are plainly in need of a transfusion. Perhaps a touch of humility would also help.