Farrell handed the England reins
November 29, 2012
Owen Farrell will start at fly-half for England against New Zealand on Saturday © PA Photos
Owen Farrell has celebrated his recent nomination for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award with a recall to the England starting line-up for Saturday's showdown with New Zealand.
Farrell replaces first-choice playmaker Toby Flood who picked up a toe injury in the 16-15 defeat to South Africa last weekend. England will field an otherwise unchanged side although they have juggled their replacements with uncapped Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns stepping into the void left by Farrell and Northampton lock Courtney Lawes getting the nod ahead of Mouritz Botha.
Farrell started all five of England's Six Nations matches, switching from inside centre to fly-half for the defeat to Wales and the victories over France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham. But the 21-year-old was dropped after England's first Test defeat to South Africa on the summer tour and he assumed the role of Flood's understudy for the last five Test matches.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: "It is a similar team to the South Africa game when we were pleased with the performance and I think the challenge we have put to the payers is to change the outcome. We thought the guys deserved another shot at it.
"Obviously we have some enforced changes with Toby dropping out and Owen comes in with Freddie starting on the bench which is great for both of them. Owen has waited patiently for his chance this series and he was fantastic for us in the Six Nations. Freddie deserves his chance and we have complete trust in him and it's great for him to get his opportunity.
He added: "Courtney Lawes comes into the second row. Unfortunately for him he got injured just before the series just as he did before the start of the Six Nations and the June tour, but this is his chance to make a mark as I'm sure he will in the second half."
Explaining his decision to stick with largely the same side defeated by the Boks, Lancaster said: "There were more than enough positives for us to trust this group of players to take us into this game."
But he is fully aware of the task facing his side this weekend if they are to beat the All Blacks for the first time since 2003 and end their 20-game unbeaten run. "You have got to get all your component areas right," he insisted. "The three set-piece areas, re-starts, scrum and lineout need to be good and obviously defensively you need to be on top of your game because you only need to look at their previous 21 games to see they regularly score above 30 points which is not easy in international rugby.
"You need to be disciplined and not allow them easy points but equally when you get your opportunities you need to take them and build a score yourselves. All the components of your game need to be in top order."
England: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (capt), Ben Morgan
Replacements: David Paice, David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Danny Care, Freddie Burns, Jonathan Joseph
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