Owen Farrell set to keep growing in stature on the big stage

As Saracens face three massive Saturdays, their No 10 is taking giant strides

sports news correspondent

There have been moments this season when it is worth reminding yourself that Owen Farrell is 22. Off the pitch, sitting fresh-faced on a sofa in a TV green room, he looks his age. On it he looks anything but. This season he has played like a cold-blooded, narrow-eyed veteran, an old pro who has seen it, done it and long since crumpled up the T-shirt in the bottom drawer.

Farrell has become a dominant No 10, a suitably granite presence at the heart of a Saracens side threatening to triumph domestically and conquer Europe too. Beginning tomorrow, the next three Saturdays will define Saracens' season, a brutally demanding finale to a campaign that promises so much but will mean painfully little without the end result. First it is Harlequins, a contest they start as strong favourites, next it is Toulon in the Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium and finally, should tomorrow go well, comes the Premiership final at Twickenham.

It won't end there for Farrell, nor for the man sitting at the other end of the sofa ahead of their appearance together on BT Sport's Rugby Tonight, Chris Robshaw, his England captain and his opponent this afternoon. The demands of a northern hemisphere season will be replaced by the unique challenges of touring New Zealand. It is a run of rugby – including a Lions tour for Farrell – on which the sun will not set. There are those who rightly fear the demands that are placed on the best players, but when you are up to your neck in it and – and this is the key ingredient – winning, you never want it to end.

"Yeah, love it," says Farrell. "It's brilliant. The exciting thing with everything I'm involved in – and I'm sure Chris will feel the same – is it's growing and growing and growing and we're on the right path and getting better and, hopefully, that never stops.

"Some of the rugby we have been involved in this year I would not want it any other way. I have not looked back on it too much but it has been a brilliant year to be involved in and exciting, and one that I think I have learnt a lot from.

"You feel drained after it has all finished," he adds, "but once you are in it, especially in games like we are at the minute, it is not hard to come to training in the morning and feel good because these are the games you have worked all year to play in."

This afternoon's fixture at Allianz Park is billed as north London's roundheads against the cavaliers from the capital's south-west. Except Saracens scored 25 more tries over the season's 22 Premiership games, and ran in six tries in that Heineken Cup semi-final against Clermont, a result and performance unmatched by an English club in Europe.

"It was a different class, wasn't it?" says Robshaw. "We played Clermont twice in our pool in the Heineken, and we came close once but we didn't do what these guys did and manage to shut down Clermont completely. We went over to their place and were chasing shadows a bit so for them to put 40-plus points on them was an incredible performance."

Farrell was at the heart of it, scoring one of the tries. "I thought we were very good," he says. "It's the most joined-up performance I can remember in a Saracens shirt. It wasn't just one area of our game where we looked good; it was a collective effort from us all. But you don't want to be too over the moon. It was a semi-final, and you want to come off saying that having won the final."

Farrell has played in 12 Premiership games this season and they have won them all. Ian McGeechan identified him as the "principal reason" for Saracens being where they are, nine points ahead of the rest in the Premiership and in the Heineken Cup final. This is his third season in the Premiership and his game is becoming ever more rounded, a No 10 who can manage a match. This week Danny Care, his England half-back partner and another opponent tomorrow, praised his dominance – and bossiness.

"You're always looking for ways to get better," says Farrell. "Not just the attacking side of my game, but everything. We have evolved the attacking side of our game at Saracens, scored more tries and made more breaks, and that has definitely helped me to become a better attacking player as well.

"Rugby is about playing where the space is – if there's 14 men in a defensive line and one guy covering the backfield, that's where the space is; if there's three dropped back, it means there's space out wide and it's on to play. It's all about making good decisions."

Saracens surprised many, Robshaw included, with the level of their performance against Clermont. It is a height they will do well to reach again but, given their and Farrell's season, and the mood around the club, there is reason for them to believe in a repeat.

"Why not? We've set a standard for ourselves now," he says. "That's the key for us, we want to make sure we get better and better and don't just rest on one good performance. Although we've been pretty consistent all year, we probably took it to a different level that day. That's what you strive to do again, take it to a different level."

The Aviva Premiership semi-final between Harlequins and Saracens kicks off at 2pm Saturday, exclusively live on BT Sport


Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Sam Allardyce
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?