Owen Farrell will continue to lead England his own way after being restored as captain for the autumn opener against Argentina at Twickenham on Sunday.
Farrell will take charge at inside centre having recovered from the concussion that threatened his involvement in the dress rehearsal for a pivotal group clash at next year’s World Cup.
With doubts growing over Courtney Lawes’ involvement in the Autumn Nations Series as he battles with his own head injury, Eddie Jones has ignored the leadership claims of Ellis Genge, Jack Nowell and Tom Curry and instead reverted to the talisman of his reign.
It comes in spite of England’s head coach revealing when naming his squad for the campaign last month that he had replaced Farrell with Lawes partly because of the Northampton forward’s greater composure when communicating with referees.
Handling officials is a crucial part of the job and Farrell has thought deeply about an approach that has appeared confrontational at times, but any changes will not be made at the cost of his own personality.
“I’d say the challenge for me is obviously the way that I play the game, the way I present myself at times when I’m playing,” said Farrell, who last skippered England against Australia a year ago.
“It’s not always necessarily what I say, it is sometimes making sure that you’re giving off the right message as well.
“There are different captains all over the world. There have been really, really calm ones that are good.
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 1, 2022
“And there’s been some explosive ones that have been really good as well. There are still a few of those knocking about now. I want to be me and I want to work on how I be a better me.”
Lawes and Curry have captained England in place of Farrell over the last year, but the Saracens playmaker refuses to view his reappointment as a source of prestige.
“My sole focus at the minute and our sole focus is growing the leadership group. And not just the group, the way that we allow space for other people to lead as well,” he said.
“The more we focus on outside of here, the more we’re not getting on with that, for me. I’ve never been overly bothered with what’s going on outside. And I don’t think I’ll start now.
“There is definitely pride, of course there is, but all our focus is on how we can grow as a group.”
On top of overseeing operations against Argentina, Farrell must assist Marcus Smith in launching destructive centre Manu Tuilagi to the most devastating effect.
It is the the first time Jones’ preferred midfield trio have been able to start together because of injuries to Farrell and Tuilagi.
“Manu has got certain qualities which no other centre in England has got,” Jones said.
“He’s got power, he can run a line, he can carry defenders with him and he can create quick ball.
“If he can create quick ball in that centre-field, it’s about the ability of the 10 and 12 to play off that. That’s the opportunity. It should be fun to watch.”