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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 07:47 GMT 08:47 UK
Farrell tipped to be England star
By Simon Austin

Andy Farrell
Farrell moved to Saracens for 700,000 in March 2005
Andy Farrell has the "same aura" as Martin Johnson and can still make a huge impact for England, according to the Rugby Football Union's chairman.

Farrell, 31, has not played a match for Saracens since making a high-profile switch from rugby league in 2005.

But Martyn Thomas told BBC Sport: "I've spoken to people at Sarries and they say Andy is a remarkable bloke.

"He has an aura around him like the one that surrounded Martin Johnson. Everyone has massive respect for him."

Farrell, who was named in England's 55-man Elite Player Squad on Tuesday, started pre-season training with the rest of the Saracens squad on 19 June.

He is in line to play the first match since his high-profile switch to union when Sarries take on Gloucester in a friendly on 11 August.

Andy passed a full medical - he has just been unlucky

Martyn Thomas
RFU chairman

Thomas insists Farrell's time on the sidelines has been the result of bad luck, and not poor judgement from the RFU, which contributed to the financial package that brought Farrell over from league in 2005.

"The question marks about Andy Farrell have been about his age and injuries," Thomas said.

"But Andy passed a full medical before he switched codes - he has simply been unlucky.

"Very early on (in September 2005), he sustained an injury to his toe which turned out to be quite serious.

"Then, when he was ready to start training again, he was involved in a minor road accident (in December 2005) when someone ran into the back of the car he was in.

"They thought he had only suffered whiplash, but the injury exacerbated an underlying problem (a prolapsed disc).

"Everyone is dying for Andy to come back to action."

Former Great Britain rugby league skipper Farrell moved from Wigan to Saracens for 700,000 in March 2005.



SEE ALSO
Convert Farrell wins England call
08 Aug 05 |  Internationals


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