Marsh backs young Farrell

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell

OWEN Farrell’s elevation to the England squad has come as no surprise to those who remember him from his Wigan St Pat’s amateur days.

The 20-year-old is the new golden-boy of rugby union following his promotion to the England squad this week.

And former team-mate Stefan Marsh – the Warriors centre currently on loan at Widnes – says he was destined for big things.

“He was always going to make it, even when he was a kid,” said Marsh, who sent Farrell a congratulations text after hearing of his call-up last week.

“ He was playing a year older than his age-group and he was one of the best players then.” Farrell helped St Pat’s Under-14s to an 18-16 National Cup Final extra-time triumph before leaving the area – but returned for a cameo two years later to guide them to a 28-12 final win, making them the only team to win the trophy twice.

“He’d been gone for a while but he came back and played for us in the Under-16s final,” remembers Marsh. “He got the man of the match, and killed Blackbrook virtually on his own.

“I always thought he’d come back to Wigan and hopefully one day he does. But he’s doing well in union and I’m made up he’s been picked for England.”

Gary Owen coached Farrell from Under-9s until he left to move down south when his dad Andy departed the Warriors and switched codes with Saracens.

And he has no doubts he would be a Super League sensation had he stayed in the area.

The former St Pat’s junior coach said: “I was absolutely made up when I found out Owen had been included in the England squad.

“I always knew he was on the right pathway – you could see it very early on.

“The other lads respected him and he was so mature for his age.

“I’m sure that had he stayed in the area, he’d be in the Wigan first-team by now.”

Instead, the goal-kicking centre is poised to showcase those skills on the big-stage in union, with many expecting him to start for England in the Six Nations when they begin their campaign on February 4.