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Owen Farrell: Marcus Smith says it was 'quite scary' to see England captain step down

Marcus Smith on Owen Farrell's decision to take a break from international rugby: "It's quite scary to be honest because when you see such a powerful person having to step down in the game, it almost reminds you that mentally we're all human and we all feel the same feelings"

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England's Marcus Smith says seeing Owen Farrell take a break from international rugby to prioritise his and his family's mental well-being is a reminder to everyone to look after themselves

Marcus Smith said it was "quite scary" to see England team-mate Owen Farrell step away from international rugby.

England captain Farrell, who is his country's record pointscorer, will miss the 2024 Six Nations in order to prioritise his and family's mental well-being.

Smith played alongside Farrell in four matches at the Rugby World Cup as England claimed a third-placed finish but the latter was frequently booed in France, sometimes with his family present in the stadium.

Smith told Sky Sports News: "I know England try their best trying to ensure your family time is well accounted for.

"However, when you're playing at that sort of level, and he's been doing it for years, an absolute legend of the game and of English rugby... To see him struggle with this, I want to wish him the very best and hope everything is alright with him and his family.

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Former England prop Rocky Clark says Farrell has shown courage and bravery by taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health

"It's quite scary to be honest because when you see such a powerful person having to step down in the game, it almost reminds you that mentally we're all human and we all feel the same feelings.

"Hopefully it's a good pointer for all of us that we need to stay in check with our mental health and look after our minds first and foremost."

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Farrell will continue to play for Saracens and could feature in Saturday's Champions Cup opener against the Bulls in Pretoria.

Saracens boss McCall blasts 'shameful' treatment of Farrell

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Saracens boss Mark McCall says he can't understand the 'shameful' treatment of Farrell by some supporters and the media

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has criticised the treatment of Farrell in what he believes should be a wake-up call for rugby.

Farrell has long been a lightning-rod figure in the sport, but the condemnation peaked in August when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle against Wales, a decision which was overturned by a disciplinary hearing only to then incur a ban on appeal.

McCall is impressed he delivered a series of strong performances in France despite shouldering a heavy burden and suffering the jeers of some supporters.

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Former Burnley and Leeds defender Clarke Carlisle praised Farrell for taking time away to prioritise his mental health

"It's remarkable that he played the way he played during the World Cup, if we take into account how he was feeling," McCall said.

"He is a person who is right on top of his game at the moment, yet he and his family have been made to feel the way they feel. It is shameful - it's not right.

"I've worked with Owen for 15 years, every day, and the person that has been portrayed in the media bears no resemblance to the person I know. He's a family man, they've always come first.

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Heather Fisher said it should get to a point where athletes taking a break from their sport, to look after their mental health, isn't a newsworthy story

"There was a narrative created and started and that's been there for quite some time. There's only so much that someone can take. On top of that, he's a brilliant, caring, supportive team-mate and a loyal friend to many, and a very good, decent human being. That's the person I know.

"It was courageous and brave of him to open up. I admire Owen for many reasons anyway, but even more for doing this. I'm not worried about Europe or the club at all. I'm worried about Owen. We want him to be OK and happy. Clearly he hasn't been."

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