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England captain Owen Farrell backed to lead from the front against South Africa by Mike Brown

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Owen Farrell will captain the tourists
Image: Owen Farrell will captain England against South Africa on Saturday

Mike Brown has hailed England captain Owen Farrell as a "great leader" who will lead from the front in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Farrell is skipper for the three-Test series against the Springboks which opens in Johannesburg knowing that the post could be available for the 2019 World Cup given Dylan Hartley's ongoing concussion problems.

The Saracens playmaker has long been viewed as Hartley's natural successor and Brown appreciates a "special" team-mate who is carved out of his own confrontational image.

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"Owen is a great leader. He energises the group through the way he trains and the way he drags people along with him, his physicality and his standards," Brown said.

"I've played alongside him for a number of years now, so I've known him a long time and I've seen how he has progressed as a person and as a player.

"I love his aggression and his physicality. I can feed off someone like that. He never takes a backward step and always leads from the front. That's the sign of a great leader.

"If I see my captain standing on the front line and leading from the front in terms of their physicality, energy and their standards, that is enough for me.

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Mike Brown and Owen Farrell during the Captain's Run at Twickenham Stadium
Image: Mike Brown has backed Owen Farrell to be a successful England captain

"But obviously he will be doing a lot of the talking as well."

Brown played under Farrell's father Andy when the former Great Britain rugby league skipper was England's defence coach from 2012 to 2015.

"Owen is special in terms of the way he talks. He's exactly like his dad in the way he talks. He sounds the same," Brown said.

"That's what makes his dad a great coach as well - he energises and motivates people.

"He gets the best out of people and Owen brings that on to the field in all parts of the game.

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Chris Robshaw says England are expecting a tough series against South Africa starting in Johannesburg on Saturday

"A couple of years ago I'd never seen someone at his age being the way he is. He is special."

Hartley faces an uncertain international future after being forced to take an extended break from the game due to the most recent in a string of concussions sustained against Ireland in May.

"Owen has just carried on what Dylan did off the field. He's carried those standards on, which has been so important in where we have got to," Brown said.

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"Owen has carried that on but brought his own style to it. They are both great leaders in my eyes. It's great to play under both of them."

Eddie Jones names his team for the first Test at lunchtime on Thursday with the fitness of lock Joe Launchbury the biggest area of doubt.

The Wasps captain could miss the series opener with a calf injury sustained in training last week, placing Nick Isiekwe and Jonny Hill on standby in case he fails to come through a fitness test.

Follow the Rose on England's journey to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, starting with their tour to South Africa, live on Sky Sports.

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