Farrell's teammates say abuse of England star 'ridiculous'

December 2, 2023 11:54 am

[Source: 1News]

Owen Farrell’s international teammate Max Malins has described the abuse thrown at him as “shocking” and “ridiculous”, while rugby continued to rally around the England captain.

Farrell has decided to miss this season’s Six Nations to prioritise his and his family’s mental health.

And Malins has backed the 32-year-old, who will continue playing for Saracens, to return “as good as he was” at the sport’s highest level.

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“It has probably come as a surprise to many, but good on him,” said Bristol back and Farrell’s old Saracens’ colleague Malins.

“I think he is unfairly treated in the media and from fans.

“We are all human beings. For someone to take such a battering over a period of time it is going to take its toll at some point, so good on him.”

Farrell led England to a third-place World Cup finish in France last month, but the tournament build-up proved far from plain-sailing for him.

He was sent off in a World Cup warm-up game against Wales, only for an independent disciplinary panel to cause an outcry when it cleared him following a shoulder-led tackle to the head of Wales forward Taine Basham, which was expected to result in a significant ban.

World Rugby then appealed that decision, and he received a four-match suspension that included England’s opening two World Cup fixtures against Argentina and Japan.

Farrell’s father – Ireland head coach Andy Farrell – labelled media coverage of the episode “a circus”, while his son was subjected to considerable attacks on social media.

At times during the World Cup, he was also booed by sections of the crowd during England games.

Malins, who was also part of England’s World Cup squad, added: “I think it’s shocking, to be honest.

“I was up in the stands when the teams were getting read out, and I heard that (booing). It was a big surprise to me. I really don’t get it.

“For what he has done for England Rugby – he is one of the greatest players to wear that shirt – and for some fans to treat him like that is ridiculous.

“You won’t find many people with a mentally tougher approach than Owen, so for him to feel like this is the step he needs to take is worrying in a sense, but also very brave and good of him to do so.”