If you’ve seen Owen Farrell linking his fingers together after a successful goal kick, something we’ve got used to during this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship, he’s doing it for a very special little boy.
Jack Johnson is like most energetic five-year-olds who loves wielding a lightsabre like a Jedi Knight. And, like Farrell, Jack’s father is a well-respected former rugby league player.
However, in November 2012 Jack was diagnosed with something called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a condition which has no known cure.
It’s a debilitating muscle-wasting disorder which, by the time he’s is a teenager, will leave Hack unable to walk and lose almost all muscle use in his body.
A campaign is raising funds for research into DMD and Farrell explained the linking fingers gesture is a key part of increasing the awareness about the cause.
“The charity is called Joining Jack and the sign is hooking the two index fingers together to create two Js, it’s called the Joining Jack salute,” he explains to O2.
“It’s something a lot of the rugby league boys have caught on to.
“Andy Johnson played for a few rugby league clubs and has got a lot of friends in the league community. The sign has caught on massively.”
Cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins proudly displayed the sign when he celebrated his Tour de France victory in 2012 while Wigan and Great Britain rugby league star Sam Tomkins is another high-profile supporter of the charity.
Farrell said he had originally wanted to unleash the JJ sign after scoring a try for Saracens but had to shelve his plans as he doesn’t score too many five-pointers.
The rugby league boys do it when they score tries but I don’t score too many tries!” he said.
“I was waiting to score (a try) but I couldn’t so I started doing it when I kicked.
“My dad played with AJ for quite a while at Wigan and he got involved in the Dubai 10s last year in the legends section to help raise awareness and I met Jack out there.”
Research into DMD continues but more funds are needed to help discover a cure as well as provide assistance to those who have had their lives affected by the condition.
But with supporters like Wiggins and Farrell spreading the message far and wide, more and more people are Joining Jack. Anyone interested in supporting the campaign or wanting more information should visit http://joiningjack.org/
Get behind-the-scenes news from Owen Farrell and his England team-mates with Inside Line, the weekly show from O2 in partnership with England Rugby, at www.O2InsideLine.com