Eddie Jones admits that Owen Farrell could improve on how he speaks to referees

Eddie Jones has admitted that Owen Farrell is still learning how to captain England but backed him to improve with “every experience”.

Farrell has been heavily criticised for his role in England’s recent decline, with his interactions with referees in the Six Nations coming under particular scrutiny.

The England head coach was speaking to the BBC and admitted that the 29-year-old still had much to learn when it comes to captaining his country.

“We’re happy with the way he is going but like any part of our organisation he can improve,” Jones said.

“He can improve in the way he speaks to the referee, he can improve in the way he leads the team. But we are all open to that sort of scrutiny.

“Owen is still learning to be a good captain, there is no doubt about that. And it is a hard art and you have got to keep developing. Every experience he has will make him a better captain.

“I’ve worked with a number of good captains and they have all had their own way of doing it.

“John Smit at the Springboks was a real people’s person, [former Australia captain] George Gregan on the other hand was very much more like Owen, and he suffered the same criticism when we had a bad performance that he didn’t speak well enough to the referee.”

‘It is an easy target for pundits’

Farrell’s interaction with Pascal Gauzere after awarding of Josh Adams’ controversial try has come under the microscope in the media, with perhaps more attention being paid to players’ interactions with referees now than ever before.

Jones attributed the added importance placed on player-referee conversations down to the empty stadiums caused by the pandemic, as it is easier to hear the on-field interactions.

“It is an easy target for the pundits to go at the captain, particularly now where there is a lack of atmosphere at a ground and the conversations are so much under the microscope,” Jones commented.

While England’s Six Nations title hopes are all but gone having lost two of their opening three games, a victory against France on Saturday would represent a major return to form for Jones’ side.

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