Farrell's time off with thumb injury hands Saracens place to son

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The Independent Online

Andy Farrell, honorary president of the One-Thing-After-Another Society, is injured. Again. The rugby league great from Wigan has shown no sign of mastering the union code since his big-money move to Saracens the spring of 2005, largely because of injuries in the toe and back departments. Now, he has busted his thumb, a few days after being named as the Watford-based club's co-captain alongside the England skipper Steve Borthwick. He is likely to be incapacitated for eight weeks.

"It's totally frustrating, especially after flogging myself for eight weeks in pre-season training," admitted the 33-year-old centre, who suffered his latest orthopaedic setback during a warm-up fixture with the Australian touring side Western Force and was replaced by his son Owen, who lasted rather longer and emerged unscathed. No respect, these kids.

Characteristically, Farrell intends to play as full a part as possible in training ahead of Saracens' opening Premiership game against Harlequins at Twickenham a fortnight on Saturday.

"You won't find me sitting in the corner and sulking," he said. "I can still train and I'll use this recuperation time to my advantage. I'll arrange my work around the first-team sessions and do whatever I can to push the players in the right direction."

Farrell may no longer be a part of the England set-up into which he was fast-tracked by Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton during their tenures as national coach, but he is held in higher regard by Saracens, hence his recent appointment. There comes a point, however, when a player's body starts pleading with its owner for a permanent rest. Given the excitement surrounding the younger Farrell's prospects, it may not be long before the old man gives way once and for all.

It is fair to say that Rupeni Caucaunibuca, the extraordinary Fijian wing whose occasional pyrotechnics on the field must be balanced against more frequent performances of the damp squib variety, does not share Farrell's admirable determination to stick at it whatever the cost. Caucaunibuca left Agen last season after the French club tired of his sudden disappearances and habitual indiscipline, which resulted in a couple of sendings-off and a ban for smoking cannabis.

For all that, reports from his home island suggest that Leicester are interested in his services to the extent that he will fly to Welford Road next week for talks. Alesana Tuilagi, Seru Rabeni and Caucaunibuca in the same back division? The thought of it makes the eyes water.

Two definite major signings will feature for Sale tomorrow night when Mathew Tait, fast emerging as England's full-time full-back, and Dwayne Peel, the Lions Test scrum-half in New Zealand three years ago, turn out in a friendly against Leeds at Edgeley Park.

Tait moved from Newcastle this summer, while Peel joined from Llanelli Scarlets. A couple of other recruits, the ex-Leicester flanker Luke Abraham and the former Wasps wing David Doherty, have also been named in the starting combination.