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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 15:29 UK

Injury-jinxed Farrell to retire

Andy Farrell
Farrell's career in rugby union was blighted by injury

Former England centre Andy Farrell has announced he will retire at the end of the current rugby union season.

The 33-year-old former Great Britain rugby league captain, who has been plagued by injury in recent years, will stay with Saracens as a skills coach.

"My mind still feels as sharp as ever, but my body is telling me different things," he said.

Farrell missed the whole of his first season in union because of injury but went on to win eight England caps.

This season he missed the first five games of Saracens' season with a dislocated thumb.

Wigan-born Farrell made his first team debut for his home-town club at the age of 16 and was a Great Britain rugby league international by the age of 18, captaining his country at the age of 21.

Julian S

In 1994, he was named rugby league's youngest-ever player of the year, and won five championships and four Challenge Cups with Wigan, as well as being named both British and world player of the year in 2004, before his cross-code switch.

He won the first of his eight England union caps against Scotland in 2006, and was a member of the squad for the 2007 World Cup, but missed the latter part of the tournament including the final because of a muscle injury.

"I had 14 great years with Wigan and have so many people to thank at the club over the years for all the help and support they gave me," he said.

Farrell in action for Great Brtain
Farrell captained Great Britain at 21

"I've also met some special people at Saracens and was also fortunate enough to become a dual international and represent England at a World Cup.

"The fans of both clubs have given me tremendous support, and I'd like to thank them for that.

"I've no regrets looking back and I've been fortunate enough to play with and against some fantastic people and have some fantastic experiences."

When Farrell starts his new role in coaching, he will be working with a squad which includes his 17-year-old son Owen.

"Owen is pretty used to me shouting at him, so he'll be fine with me being a coach," joked Farrell. "It's the other guys who may have to get used to it."

Jonathan Davies, a former Great Britain team-mate, said Farrell would go down as a "great, great rugby player".

"He was one of the best players I played with," said the Welshman, who, like Farrell, was a dual-code international.

"I played with him when he was 18. He had stature, he had a presence in the changing room and on the field, and he demanded respect from the players he played with.

"He was a great kicker of the ball, he had a good footballing brain, but he did the hard yards as well. He was a great, great rugby player."

Davies insisted Farrell would have enjoyed a glittering career in union had he not been plagued by injuries.

"His rugby union career didn't hit the heights that he expected, but you can't take anything away from Andy Farrell," said Davies.

"He was an absolutely fabulous rugby player. If he had come earlier to rugby union, he would have been a world-class player."

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see also
Saracens hit by new Farrell blow
20 Aug 08 |  Saracens
Centre Barritt signs for Saracens
05 Aug 08 |  Saracens
Saracens sign Springbok flanker
16 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Farrell facing three months out
06 Apr 08 |  Saracens
Farrell set for Saracens return
13 Mar 08 |  Saracens
Farrell joined at Saracens by son
08 Jan 08 |  Saracens
Farrell ruled out of England side
05 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Ford makes U-turn on Farrell view
19 Sep 07 |  English
Farrell may never succeed - Ford
16 Sep 07 |  English
Farrell finally joins the union
12 Sep 06 |  Saracens
Farrell set to miss entire season
12 Apr 06 |  English
Toe op puts Farrell on sidelines
22 Sep 05 |  English
Saracens sign league star Farrell
23 Mar 05 |  English

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