Owen Farrell could miss Six Nations start with England after citing for dangerous tackle

Anxious wait: Owen Farrell has been cited for a dangerous tackle  (Getty Images)
Anxious wait: Owen Farrell has been cited for a dangerous tackle (Getty Images)

Owen Farrell could miss the start of England’s Six Nations campaign after being cited for a dangerous tackle in Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership win over Gloucester on Friday.

Farrell will face an RFU disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night, where a suspension could put him out of England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4.

The 31-year-old will now face a nervous wait to discover whether he will be available for the start of Steve Borthwick’s tenure as England head coach.

Farrell’s high tackle on Jack Clement went unpunished after miscommunication between referee Karl Dickson and TMO Claire Hodnett during Saracens’ 19-16 win at Gloucester.

The two officials appeared to mix up the passages of play to be reviewed after the tackle, and in the confusion Farrell’s high shot was not looked at for a second time.

Farrell stayed on the pitch to drop the winning goal, to frustrate Gloucester but leave Mark McCall’s men nine points clear at the top of the table.

New boss Borthwick’s England headaches do not end with Farrell’s situation, as Tom Curry now faces a race against time to be fit for the Six Nations. Flanker Curry suffered a hamstring injury in Sale’s 24-16 Premiership win at Harlequins on Sunday.

Rugby director Alex Sanderson has told Curry to focus solely on being fit in time for England’s Six Nations opener. Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie picked up an ankle injury in Exeter’s 35-12 win over Northampton on Saturday, leaving another frontline star facing a battle to be fit for Borthwick’s first Test at the helm.

Harlequins are making contingency plans meanwhile, in case Nick Evans’ short-term stint with England turns into a permanent move. Both England and Quins have insisted that attack specialist Evans’ Test switch is solely for the Six Nations.

But Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson admitted it would be folly to rule out Evans impressing England to the extent that the RFU goes all-out to recruit the former New Zealand fly-half full-time.

Asked if Evans could end up with England permanently, Matson replied: “There’s always a possibility isn’t there. But in my mind, we will see him and he’ll help us finish the season very strongly.

“It is bittersweet for us isn’t it? But ultimately that’s what you want. Because if you don’t have people promoted to higher honours, then they’re probably not good enough to win you things.”