Owen Farrell clear to face All Blacks as England co-captain escapes action over Andre Esterhuizen tackle

World Rugby confirm that no citings were made from England’s 12-11 victory over South Africa, although Farrell admitted it was a ‘big collision’ that left him waiting nervously

Jack de Menezes
Sunday 04 November 2018 19:52
Eddie Jones: 'you are going to sack me at some stage'

Owen Farrell has been cleared to face the All Blacks after World Rugby confirmed that no citings were made from England’s narrow victory over South Africa on Saturday.

The fly-half faced a nervous wait following the 12-11 win at Twickenham, and even admitted to being nervous as referee Angus Gardner reviewed his final-play tackle on South Africa replacement Andre Esterhuizen for a suspected shoulder charge.

“Whenever anybody goes to the big screen to the TMO and slows it down like they did do then of course I was worried but thankfully it went our way,” Farrell said. “It was a pretty big collision. It was tough to get my arms around him.”

Farrell insisted that he attempted to wrap his arms around the bulky figure of Esterhuizen, adding that he always tries to in response to recent criticism of his tackling technique. It was not the first time that the pair collided, either, with Esterhuizen flattening Farrell midway through the second half as he offloaded the ball with a tackle that left the 26-year-old writhing in agony and limping once he got back to his feet.

“Yes, he got me,” Farrell noted. “It wasn’t payback. He lined me up from about 30 metres. I had to try and tackle him.”

The tackle was representative of the full-blooded effort that Farrell has been known to put into every much, and this time his performance also appeared to lift those around him as England came to the fore after half-time.

Alongside Ben Te’o, the pair were able to dish out as good as they got and set the tone for a defensive display that stands up there with the best of Jones’ reign: the second Test against Australia in 2016 and Six Nations victory over Wales earlier this year.

Owen Farrell's tackle on Andre Esterhuizen has caused widespread debate

Not unfamiliar with dishing out severe punishment himself, Te’o stressed that Farrell was always going to be let off the hook. “It was a legal hit. Sometimes when a big shot is made on the chest, the head whips back. It can look bad in real time, but when you slow it down it's a chest shot. He had his arm to wrap, so it was a legal hit.

“Owen almost knocked himself out! That’s Owen – he plays with a lot of passion and he really wanted to finish with a win, so it was a big shot.”

As a result, Farrell will resume training on Monday free to face New Zealand Rugby this Saturday in what will be the first meeting between the two sides since 2014 – and Eddie Jones’ first crack at his former rivals since taking the England job and setting his sights on toppling them at next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Jones named a 35-man squad on Sunday night that will prepare for the second Quilter International, this time at their normal training base at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot as opposed to last week’s ‘warm-weather’ camp in Portugal. Harlequins centre Joe Marchant is handed his first call-up to the England squad as cover, with Manu Tuilagi needing assessment on his groin strain that he picked up last week, while flanker Tom Curry will also be assessed after leaving Twickenham on crutches, having suffered an ankle injury.

Tom Curry will have an ankle injury assessed ahead of the New Zealand match

Courtney Lawes is also in contention to return from his back injury, but Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan is left out after suffering a blow to his shoulder last week that has left him unable to train. Jones’ latest apprentice, Ted Hill, is also left out with the 19-year-old returning to Worcester Warriors.

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