Farrell: Twickenham boos ‘definitely’ hurt England players
Owen Farrell has said that being booed off by home fans after the defeat to South Africa “definitely” hurt as England prepare to return to Twickenham.
The 27-13 loss to the Springboks closed a disappointing autumn campaign for England, with home supporters voicing their displeasure at the full time whistle after a meek display.
The defeat precipitated the departure of head coach Eddie Jones, with Steve Borthwick installed as the Australian’s replacement.
Re-installed as England captain under the new head coach, Farrell is preparing to lead England in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday.
The 31-year-old believes England need to get the Twickenham crowd back on side for the Calcutta Cup clash.
“Definitely,” Farrell told the BBC when asked if the boos at the end of the South Africa game had hurt his side.
“You think there’s no-one more disappointed than us at the time. To have not given the best account of ourselves was disappointing.
“We were disappointed in ourselves. It didn’t feel good.
“Hopefully this crowd on Saturday sees a team that’s willing to fight for each other, to work as hard as they can for 80 minutes to get the result.
“They’ll play a massive part in that.”
Borthwick, returning to the England set-up after guiding Leicester to Premiership triumph last season, has consistently underlined that he hopes to forge a side willing to fight for one another as he seeks immediate improvement from a muddled end to the Jones era.
The former England captain has been short on preparation time ahead of the Scotland game, with his first squad assembling at the Pennyhill Park training base last Monday.
With injury meaning both Henry Slade and Dan Kelly are unavailable, Borthwick is likely to persist with a playmaking partnership of Marcus Smith and Farrell that struggled to click during the autumn.
While in fine club form at fly-half for Saracens, Farrell insists he is willing to play whatever position is best for “the balance of the team” but says that his combination with Smith is a part of a “whole picture” that England must get right.
“It’s the whole picture that we’ve got to get right,” Farrell explained.
“There’s no point in me and Marcus working on our partnership and trying to get that right when we need to look at the whole picture.”
England are expected to hand a Six Nations debut to Ben Curry in the back row with the Sale flanker’s twin brother, Tom, another injury absentee.
Hooker Jamie George is “on track” to be available to face Scotland as he progresses through return to play protocols after a brain injury, while talented London Irish wing Ollie Hassell-Collins is set for an international debut.