Owen Farrell breaks silence on international break and ‘new challenge’ in France

The England fly-half will join Racing 92 at the end of the season

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 21 March 2024 07:22 GMT
Owen Farrell is set to make his 250th appearance for Saracens against Harlequins
Owen Farrell is set to make his 250th appearance for Saracens against Harlequins (PA Wire)

Owen Farrell has left the door open for a possible return to Saracens in the future after revealing that his break from England action has left him refreshed ahead of a “new challenge” in France next season.

Farrell will depart his boyhood club at the end of this campaign having signed a two-year deal with Racing 92 in the Top 14.

The fly-half’s move followed an announcement after last year’s World Cup that he would be stepping away from international action, removing himself from consideration for Steve Borthwick’s Six Nations squad.

The 32-year-old will return to action for Saracens on Saturday against Harlequins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, having enjoyed a month away from the club with no Premiership action since January.

Speaking publicly for the first time since taking his international sabbatical, Farrell explained that the period out of the spotlight had been good for him.

“I’m good. It’’s been nice to spend some time with my family and to do some things that I don’t normally get the chance to do,” Farrell said.

“I was just trying to get back to enjoying myself, trying to get back to enjoying my rugby and loving what I’m doing. I’m working to doing that. It’s never one thing when you come to a decision. Obviously there’s a change next year off the back of it as well. I’ve obviously done that because I think it’d be good for me. And I’m hoping that that gives me the space to get back to enjoying what I’m doing. It’s a new challenge and one that hopefully is good for us.”

Farrell has spent his entire club career with Saracens and will make his 250th appearance for the club against Harlequins on Saturday afternoon.

Owen Farrell is England’s record points scorer (Getty)

The departure of England’s leading points scorer is indicative of an end of an era for a side that have dominated English rugby, with coach Mark McCall confirming that both Mako and Billy Vunipola were “coming towards the end of their time” in north London.

McCall also suggested that Farrell would be welcomed back in the future as either a player or a coach if his club captain wished to return.

And Farrell suggested that he would be open to the idea of coming back in the future but had not given it extended thought. “I’ve stepped back and there’s obviously a change happening next year. Then we’ll see. There’s no point in saying anything now because I don’t know how I’m going to feel later down the line.

“I want to play for as long as I possibly can as long as I am enjoying it. I love playing. That’s always been the case, even during the tougher bits as I’ve spoken about.

“I want to enjoy all of it a bit more. I’ve been getting back to doing it here at the club, I’ve done that over this time during the Six Nations, and I want to really do that towards the end of the year. And then I want to get better at it next year as well. That’s how I think I am going to get the best out of myself and play my best. We’ll see what happens.”

While Farrell’s move to France will render him unavailable for England, he would remain eligible for the British & Irish Lions, who will be coached by Farrell’s father Andy in Australia next summer.

Andy Farrell (right) has been appointed British & Irish Lions coach (Getty)

Owen insisted, though, that his contact with his dad had extended only to congratulating him on the appointment and that the prospect of a fourth Lions tour was “not something I have thought about as of yet.

“There’s nothing to talk about – whatever happens, happens. There are no decisions to be made about any of that. When it gets closer to the time, I guess things become clear or they don’t.”

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