x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Owen Farrell needs no help from dad to be an England player

Owen Farrell has earned his call-up to the England rugby set up on his own merits, writes Paul Radley

There is a simple scale to measure how successful certain sportsmen have been in handling the perception of nepotism throughout their careers.

By the end, if they are still called "son of", they have generally not succeeded. If their previously celebrated relation has become better known as "father of", they can count themselves a winner.

Alec Stewart was highly successful at it. He played over 100 Tests for the England cricket team, suggesting he never needed a bunk up from his father, Mickey, who was the coach when he first came into the side back in the early 1990s.

Darren Ferguson was less so at Manchester United, while, in retrospect, Paul Dalglish's brief spell leading the line at Newcastle United would probably not have happened had father, Kenny, not been in charge at the time.

Aged 20, Owen Farrell has a long time yet in which he will have to carry the burden of being the son of a famous father.

If he comes anywhere near fulfilling the potential he has shown so far in his nascent professional rugby career, he will fit comfortably into the Stewart category.

The fact his father, Andy, the rugby league great, is part of the coaching set-up at the same time as he has ascended to the England national rugby union team, is merely of fleeting coincidence.

The young Saracens fly-half, who is set to be handed his chance at centre in the Six Nations championship, should be a fixture of England's future, no matter who is in charge.