Dan Carter, bidding for a clean sweep of rugby union's major prizes, will try to steer Racing 92 to a win against Saracens in the Champions Cup final - AFP
AFP: Owen Farrell said Dan Carter’s ‘calm and control’ are the qualities he most admires in his rival fly-half as he prepares to face the All Blacks great in Saturday’s Champions Cup final.
Farrell will try to steer London side Saracens to victory as Carter, bidding for a clean sweep of rugby union’s major prizes, tries to do the same for Paris-based Racing 92.
“He’s been there and done it so many times,” said Farrell, speaking at Saracens’ training ground, of Carter.
“People talked about whether he could do it or not going into the World Cup. That’s not for me to take notice of, but a player of his class was always going to play like he did,” said Farrell, deployed as a centre during England’s recent Six Nations grand slam.
“It’s just how calm he is, how much he is in control of what he does that stands out,” added Farrell when asked what he most admired about World Cup-winner Carter.
“Trying to be calmer on the pitch, it’s definitely something I’m always trying to do.
“The more you’re calm, the more you’re in control and the more you’re thinking about the right things. That’s definitely something I’ve taken into account.”
Farrell has a fiery side and he had to serve a two-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Dan Robson during Saracens’ European semi-final win over domestic rivals Wasps.
But he insisted this was not a sign of a lack of calm, but demonstrated an aggressive approach to defence that he was keen to maintain.
“Rugby is a physical game and you have to play in a physical way. You can’t be hesitant in what you do or you... end up in trouble yourself,” said Farrell.
“The collision that you’re talking about was unfortunate but going forward you have to be decisive in what you do.”
Two years ago, Saracens’ first major European final ended in a 23-6 defeat by a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired Toulon. The following week saw Saracens also lose the English Premiership final after an extra-time defeat by Northampton.
For the 24-year-old Farrell, now a veteran of 40 England Tests, those losses were a lesson in staying composed.
“You think you are calm, you think you are composed, you think you are taking it all in your stride and when you look back at it you are probably not as much as you hope you had been,” said Farrell of the 2014 final loss to Toulon.
“That is probably natural, it being the first occasion you have been there. But the experience you have got to learn is that it is a game of rugby, it is two good teams playing in a Cup final but it is just 80 minutes of rugby.
“We have got to play the game, we have not got to play anything that is around the game and the occasion; we have got to play a game of rugby.
“You have to learn from big games and big experiences, especially ones where it doesn’t go your way.”