England head coach Eddie Jones has confirmed that Owen Farrell will miss the upcoming Six Nations Championship through injury.
The fly-half, 30, was expected to lead his country into the annual tournament but will play no part as he requires surgery on an ankle injury.
The British & Irish Lion picked up the injury while training with Saracens and will now miss the entire of the 2022 event.
Jones broke the news at this morning’s Six Nations Media Day, the official launch of the competition, after Farrell has previously withdrawn from the team to assess the extent of the injury.
The England head coach said: “Owen is out of the Six Nations. It’s a massive blow for him personally and for the team it’s a blow.”
“But it’s obviously an opportunity for other guys to step up into leadership roles and for other players to play for that 12 jumper.
“We see it more as an opportunity. In today’s rugby, having your best team on the field is a rare occurrence.
“We’re pretty used to it. There’s an opportunity there to build a bit more leadership depth.”
Time for Smith to shine in number 10 jersey?
Owen Farrell has won 94 caps for England playing at both 10 and 12 but was expected to feature more in the inside-centre role at this year’s Six Nations to accommodate the emerging Marcus Smith at fly-half.
The Harlequins stand-off, who has drawn comparisons to England legend Jonny Wilkinson, is expected to play a big part for Eddie Jones’ team at the competition.
The 22-year old burst onto the scene last year after winning his first cap against the USA in June has has gone on to make a further four appearances for the senior side.
Smith particularly impressed in the 27-26 Autumn International win over South Africa where he kicked three penalties and two conversions including in the final minute to give the Roses the lead.
He was already expected to be an important player at the 2022 Six Nations but there will now be even more weight on his young shoulders with the absence of Farrell.
George Ford, who is also vastly experienced on the international stage with 77 caps, is also an option at stand-off for Eddie Jones as is the as yet uncapped Bath half-back Orlando Bailey.
At Centre, England have Mark Atkinson, Joe Marchant, Luke Northmore and Henry Slade as options.
Farrell joins other big names missing 2022 Six Nations
Owen Farrell is just the latest high profile player to be ruled out of the 2022 Six Nations Championship.
Fellow England teammate Jonny May will also miss the tournament while Wales are missing several important players including their own captain.
Dan Biggar will fill in as skipper for the Welsh with Alun Wyn Jones to miss the entire tournament while George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric are all also missing from the initial team named by Wayne Pivac.
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