Owen Farrell set to play for England against Ireland in Six Nations opener as he shakes off injury concerns to train with team-mates in Portugal
- Owen Farrell trained freely with the England squad on Friday morning
- The Saracens fly-half is not yet able to take part in contact drills
- He is well on course to regain full fitness in time for Dublin showdown
Owen Farrell’s availability for England’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin now appears in no doubt at all after he trained freely with the rest of the squad on Friday morning.
The Saracens fly-half is not yet able to take part in contact drills, following his minor hand surgery, but that will happen by the start of next week and he is evidently well on course to regain full fitness in time for the showdown with the title-holders on February 2.
As Joe Schmidt’s Irish squad prepared to fly home from their own warm-weather camp here in the Algarve, England were just launching their own preparations in earnest and Farrell took a full part in proceedings.
Owen Farrell’s availability for England’s Six Nations opener appears in no dubt
The Saracens fly-half trained freely with the rest of the England squad on Friday morning
Farrell is not yet able to take part in contact drills, following his minor hand surgery
England have begun their Six Nations preparations at an Algarve training camp in earnest
After warm-ups, the 27-year-old captain – who will take on the leadership role alone at the start of this championship in the absence of Dylan Hartley – gathered the players together in a huddle to address them before the session began in earnest.
Brad Shields was not out on the field at the Browns sports complex here with the other players. The Wasps flanker is attempting to recover from a side strain but his participation in the Dublin fixture must now be in considerable doubt.
Rookie Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga is another recent casualty seeking to prove his fitness before the trip to the Irish capital.
The giant Fiji-born player is on the mend after suffering knee ligament damage, but he was working alone, away from the other backs. He too must be considered a doubt for the clash with the Irish.
The 27-year-old captain gathered the players together in a huddle to address them beforehand
That momentous match is sure to hinge in large part on England’s ability to withstand the aerial barrage unleashed by Ireland’s Lions scrum-half, Conor Murray.
With that in mind, the outside backs were doing a lot of work on catching the high ball, with attack coach Scott Wisemantel wielding a foam tube which he was urging them to climb above as they caught the ball.
The message was rammed home that England will have to rise to the challenge, in a very literal sense.
The England forwards were put through their paces by strength and conditioning coach Jon Clarke, who was recruited from Warrington rugby league club last summer, as part of Eddie Jones’ overhaul of his management team.
The 2019 Six Nations begins next Friday night when France host Wales in Paris