Farrell hangs up his boots for coaching role

Andy Farrell is to retire from professional rugby at the end of this season, the player announced on Tuesday.

Former Wigan and Great Britain rugby league captain Farrell, 34 next month, switched codes in 2005 and joined Premiership rugby union club Saracens.

He went on to win eight England caps and was a member of their squad at the 2007 World Cup in France.

Farrell will remain with Saracens, by becoming their skills coach.

“My mind still feels as sharp as ever, but my body is telling me different things,” Farrell said.

“Throughout my career I’ve always prided myself on doing extra training to stay one step ahead of opponents, but I’m now finding myself spending all my time just trying to get right for training, rather than trying to be a better player,” he added.

“When that time comes, it is time to stop.

“After 18 years, it will be an emotional moment to play my last game, but I’m really excited about the opportunity that Saracens have given to me to move into coaching – something I have always wanted to do.

“I’ve always been interested in coaching, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people during my career and I’m looking forward to putting into practice all the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.”

Farrell was only 15 when he made his second team debut for Wigan and within a year was a first team regular.

He made his Great Britain debut aged 18 and at 21 became the youngest captain of his country, going on to make 34 Test appearances.

Farrell’s brilliant career with Wigan saw him win five championships and four Challenge Cups.

But, following in the footsteps of his old Wigan team-mate Jason Robinson, a member of the England rugby union team that won the 2003 World Cup, Farrell then crossed codes in a move that was part funded by the Rugby Football Union.

However, he never hit the same heights in union as he’d done in league. Injuries blighted his initial career in the 15-man game and there was an early debate about whether he should play as a flanker or a centre.

But he settled into a midfield role. He won all his eight England caps in 2007 with his final international appearance as a replacement against Tonga during a World Cup pool game that year in Paris.

“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,” Farrell said.

“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.” However, he added: “But my time as a player is not over yet.

“There is still a huge amount to play for with Saracens, and we have a big game on Sunday against Newcastle in the European Challenge Cup. I would love to sign off on a high note, and winning a trophy would be just that.”

Paying tribute to Farrell, whose 17-year-old son Owen is a centre on Saracens’ books, club chairman Nigel Wray said: “It’s very sad to see a truly great sportsman come to the end of his career, but we are delighted that Andy is staying on at Saracens to join the coaching staff.

“It would have been fascinating to see how far he would have gone in rugby union had he not missed his first year through injury.

“Nevertheless, it has been a great pleasure for us all to know an outstanding individual and to know that Saracens will continue to have the benefit of his 18 years at the top of both codes.”



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