Aviva Premiership
Farrell: Hodgson will not be a rival
ESPNscrum Staff
April 22, 2011
Owen Farrell has been a mainstay for Saracens this season © Getty Images

Saracens have navigated their last eight Premiership games with barely a scratch, winning all of them to move to within touching distance of a home semi-final and possible return to Twickenham, the scene of final-day heartbreak 12 months ago.

Owen Farrell has had one hand on the tiller for the Watford-based club all season, making it easy to forget that the 19-year-old fly-half began the campaign behind Alex Goode and Derick Hougaard in the pecking order.

An Achilles injury put paid to Hougaard's season early on and with Goode proving more adept at fullback, whether he likes it or not, Farrell has made a home for himself at first receiver.

Next season, a further challenge will come in the form of Charlie Hodgson, the Sale fly-half who holds the Premiership scoring record and a reputation as the league's most-reliable operator. The stage is set for a classic rivalry, the master versus the upstart. Only, Farrell doesn't see it that way.

"I don't think it's going to be a rivalry at all," he said. "There's lots of good players at this club and we all rotate. Hopefully that'll be the same with Charlie. Hopefully I'll get some gametime next year and I'm just hoping to keep learning. I'll learn a lot from him, he's such a brilliant player.

"I definitely wasn't expecting to be involved this much. I wanted to try and get a few games in and hopefully show what I can do. Never in a million years did I think I'd be doing this, this year. It just happened that circumstances, injuries and the like, gave me the chance to."

'Culture' is a popular word at Sarries. Speak to the players or management and it becomes clear that winning games isn't all they're trying to achieve. The club will begin next season without a permanent home, due to their relocation to the Barnet Copthall Stadium, but they are beginning to do a decent impression of a side that finds safety among their own number, rather than their surroundings.

In the last two seasons they have beaten Leicester at Welford Road twice as well as silence Franklin's Gardens in the regular season and play-offs. What remains is the big one at the home of English rugby.

"We've created a culture at this club and it's working. We've won eight from eight and it's working well," Farrell said. "There are some great players at this club, some of them in the same position, but they're all best mates. There's no rivalry at this club. We all rotate, we all get our chances and it's good for the club, everyone's so tight and it's good to be here at the minute."

Sunday's Premiership action sees Gloucester travel to Vicarage Road for a game that could go some way to deciding the venue for one of this season's semi-finals. Sarries hold a five-point advantage over the Cherry and Whites, who saw off a below strength Northampton on Tuesday, and Farrell is aware of the threat that they pose.

"We're confident we can beat anyone at the minute, we've played some big teams this year and got some good wins at some tough places," he said. "Gloucester are a very good team, they move the ball very well. They are a good defensive side also, they can attack you from anywhere. Hopefully we're on our toes and ready for that."

Saracens RFC is one of a series of Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs working with Gatorade to encourage players of all levels to stay ahead of the game and improve their performance. Owen Farrell and teammates were at Saracens training ground filming a series of coaching videos to be featured online next month. Gatorade is the official hydration partner of the Aviva Premiership.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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