Saracens boss Mark McCall believes it is “remarkable” that fly-half Owen Farrell has performed so impressively for both club and country given how he was feeling inside.
McCall was talking after his captain decided that he’ll miss the 2024 Six Nations so he can “prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being” following prolonged online abuse.
The director of rugby has slammed the “shameful” treatment of Farrell and hopes that it will be a wake-up call for the game, with Farrell set to continue playing for Saracens.
Third place at World Cup
Farrell, 32, skippered England to a third-place finish at the recent Rugby World Cup.
However, the fly-half has been a focal point for criticism from both English and other nations on social media over the years and was booed at the tournament in France.
Farrell was also caught up in a disciplinary storm after his dangerous tackle on Wales flanker Taine Basham in August, which clearly left its mark on the influential skipper.
“It’s remarkable that he played the way he played during the World Cup, if we take into account how he was feeling,” McCall said after Farrell’s call to step away from Tests.
“He is a person who is right on top of his game at the moment, yet he and his family have been made to feel the way they feel. It is shameful. It’s not right.
“I’ve worked with Owen for 15 years, every day, and the person that has been portrayed in the media bears no resemblance to the person I know. He’s a family man, they’ve always come first.
“There was a narrative created and started and that’s been there for quite some time. There’s only so much that someone can take.
Caring supportive team-mate
“On top of that, he’s a brilliant, caring, supportive team-mate and a loyal friend to many. And a very good, decent human being. That’s the person I know.
“It was courageous and brave of him to open up. I admire Owen for many reasons anyway, but even more for doing this.
“I’m not worried about Europe or the club at all. I’m worried about Owen. We want him to be OK and happy. Clearly he hasn’t been.”