Matt Dawson claims Owen Farrell is holding England back


Owen Farrell is under pressure to retain his position as England captain after a number of mediocre performances, according to Matt Dawson.

England eased to a six-try win over Italy at Twickenham but Farrell again had an off-day, struggling with ball in hand while also missing a couple of straight-forward conversions.

While Dawson, who toured with the British and Irish Lions on three occasions, noted that the England captain is still world-class, he wrote for the BBC that Farrell is holding his team back in attacking play.

“Owen Farrell is an England great, but right now it is as if he does not fit in the side’s attacking structure. During Saturday’s win against Italy, you could tell the England captain was rattled.

“Whatever is going on in his rugby life, he is under pressure. You could see it at times when he was talking to the referee.

“Farrell was scrapping, fighting and was lucky he was not punished for a late tackle on Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney.

“He is on the edge. He will not like it, but we have all been there and it has got to be recognised by selection.

“It does not mean Farrell is not going to be a world-class player, but there just needs to be a bit of coaching and training – maybe away from the side.

“Something needs to happen because it is holding England back,” Dawson wrote.

‘They seem to be quite predictable.’

While England were able to show off their try-scoring ability against Italy, serious doubts remain over their attacking prowess since their deflating loss to Scotland.

The former England scrum-half raised questions over attack coach Simon Amor, claiming that opposing defences are easily able to deal with them as their attack has become predictable.

“England do not seem to be able to run the lines and fool the opposition so that there is a lovely clean line break. They seem to be quite predictable.

“I am not convinced they are being coached well enough in their sessions day to day. They have got attack coach Simon Amor, who was a world-class sevens player and no doubt has a fantastic ability to coach skills.

“Does he have the knowledge to be coaching a team how to play 15-a-side attacking rugby at this level? I am yet to be convinced of that.

“We have been told we are going to see an attacking side now and England have changed their emphasis to attack. Every single team practises both defence and attack and England have made a meal out of it. I find it nonsense.

“England want to be the greatest team of all time. How on earth do they think they are going to be the greatest team of all time if they have not been practising their attack? That does not make sense to me,” Dawson commented.

Wales will provide a sterner challenge for the English attack in the next round of the Six Nations, although questions remain over the Welsh defence having played against 14 men for the majority of their 160 minutes of action so far.

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