Rugby Union: Farrell has no worries with Brits after clash

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell kicks at goal during the Tour Match at the Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong.

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell kicks at goal during the Tour Match at the Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong.

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Owen Farrell insists there are “no dramas” between him and his Saracens colleague Schalk Brits after their Hong Kong Stadium bust-up.

Brits will serve a three-week ban at the start of next season following his citing for striking Farrell during Saturday’s clash between the Barbarians and British and Irish Lions.

Referee Steve Walsh initially penalised Farrell for reacting to Brits’ indiscretion, but he reversed the decision – and yellow-carded Brits – on viewing big-screen television replays.

Baa-Baas hooker Brits appeared at an International Rugby Board disciplinary hearing yesterday, where judicial officer Steve Lewis imposed the sanction.

He has also apologised to Farrell on Twitter.

Reflecting on the first-half incident, Lions fly-half Farrell said: “Things happen in rugby.

“I was trying to hold him into a ruck, and he reacted to that. It all happens in rugby. There’s no dramas there.

“When someone reacts to you, you try not to take a backward step, not just in this occasion but in every occasion. I just grabbed him. There was nothing nasty in it.

“It is a reminder of how vital it is to keep cool and not respond to provocation.

“These are big games, every game for the Lions is massive, and to lose someone to the bin would be massive. You can’t afford to do that – everyone has to be disciplined.

“I shook Schalk’s hand after the game, and he apologised when he came back on to the field.”

Farrell kicked 15 points in the Lions’ 59-8 triumph, but he admitted the hot and humid conditions had a major effect on proceedings.

“It was tough to handle the ball out there,” he added.

“It felt fine during the warm-up when everything was dry, but as soon as your shirt got wet and people’s hands were wet passing the ball, which was soaking, you might have been playing in torrential rain as far as the ball was concerned.

“I have never played in humidity like that. It was tough, but it wasn’t unbearable.

“I know that you are going to have to get your recovery right now. Some people will have to back up for the next game, so that’s important.”

That next fixture – against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday – could see tour captain Sam Warburton make his first playing contribution on the 10-match trip.

Wales flanker Warburton missed the Baa-Baas encounter as a precaution, resting a knee injury, with Ireland lock Paul O’Connell taking over as skipper.

“Sam is doing really well, and indeed, he could have played in Saturday’s game,” Lions doctor James Robson said.

“The trouble was that he has had a previous injury to his leg there, so for anyone carrying, or having had previous injuries, we are always ultra-cautious of.

“He has not got a privileged position because he is captain. We would have made the decision on anybody in that position.

“Last week, he just got a knock in training which seemed relatively innocuous. With the flight (from London to Hong Kong) and stiffening up a little, he just felt his knee a little.

“We pulled him out of training and advised Warren (Lions head coach Warren Gatland) that we would rather give him a few days extra.

“My colleague Eanna Falvey thought it would be beneficial just to put a tiny bit of steroid around the area because that can help with the discomfort, and Sam has had enormous benefit from that.

“Given that he didn’t play last night, he should be available for the next game.

“It is a mild tweak of literally a few fibres of his ligament and possibly his muscle.

“It is not a dramatic injury, he didn’t pull up. He just presented when we got here when we got off the plane.”

Irish flanker Sean O’Brien (bone bruising) and Wales powerhouse prop Gethin Jenkins (calf muscle) have returned to normal training, while full-back Rob Kearney is also progressing well.

“Rob is running today and has been progressing nicely. He had a niggle allegedly in his hamstring, but it may have been a bit of referred pain from his back,” Robson added.

“He is with the physios, hopefully with the view to release him back to team duties.”

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