Owen Farrell joins Jonny Wilkinson to refine kicking at England training base

The Saracens fly-half has been preparing for the Gallagher Premiership run-in before his move to France with Racing at the end of the season

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 25 April 2024 15:44 BST
Owen Farrell practises kicking with Jonny Wilkinson
Owen Farrell practises kicking with Jonny Wilkinson (Getty Images)

Owen Farrell has been working privately with Jonny Wilkinson as Saracens rugby gear up for the Gallagher Premiership run-in.

The Independent understands that Farrell and Wilkinson, good friends, have been using England’s training centre at Pennyhill Park for a number of sessions over the last few weeks.

The pair have worked closely together for an extended period of time. Wilkinson, who lives near England’s Bagshot base, was utilised as an ad hoc kicking consultant during the tenures of both Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick.

Ahead of his Saracens departure, the fly-half, who surpassed Wilkinson as his country’s leading international points scorer during last year’s World Cup, is looking to dial in his kicking game. Farrell withdrew himself from consideration for Borthwick’s Six Nations squad this year and subsequently agreed a move to Racing 92 and will depart his boyhood club for Paris at the end of the season.

While their recent sessions are thought to be informal in nature, Farrell has previously turned to the 2003 World Cup winner to help him when struggling in the past.

“Part of the answer is trying not to work every single kick out and bounce around from one thing to another,” Farrell said of working with Wilkinson while enduring something of a slump from the tee during last year’s Six Nations.

“It’s just to kick. I know how to kick a ball. I’m just going to try to free myself up to do that. It’s also having an attitude about you that irons it all out; a whole view of it, so that you don’t overly pick at little things, which is probably what I’ve been doing. But I’ve been in this situation before and I’m sure I will again at some point, so it’s making sure I get back to enjoying my kicks.”

Farrell’s move to Racing at the end of the season is reminiscent of Wilkinson’s switch to Toulon in 2009.

Ex England player Jonny Wilkinson looks on as Owen Farrell practises drop goals in Tokyo in 2019
Ex England player Jonny Wilkinson looks on as Owen Farrell practises drop goals in Tokyo in 2019 (Getty Images)

The England great’s arrival heralded an era of success for the Top 14 club, Wilkinson guiding Les Rouge et Noir to back-to-back Champions Cup crowns before retiring from rugby in 2014.

In The Boys of Winter, a book by Lawrence Dallaglio and Owen Slot chronicling England’s World Cup win in 2003 published last year, Wilkinson explained that he still kicked every day as a form of “spiritual practice”.

“I absolutely love it,” Wikinson said. “It’s part of me exploring who I am. It’s no longer part of me trying to achieve something.”

Farrell starts and captains Saracens as they take on Bath at The Rec on Friday night in a key fixture in the fight for Premiership play-off places.

With three regular season games remaining, Mark McCall’s defending champions sit third in the table, two points behind their opponents.

Bristol, Harlequins, Sale, Exeter and Leicester are all still in with a shot of securing a top four finish, with Northampton looking likely to top the table.

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