Robinson: Scotland will target Farrell
January 27, 2013
Owen Farrell played a key role in England's win over New Zealand © PA Photos
Scotland will target young England fly-half Owen Farrell in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham on Saturday, according to their former head coach Andy Robinson.
The 21-year-old is vying with Leicester's Toby Flood to start at No.10 in the Six Nations opener and after a rousing display in England's win over New Zealand last autumn and a strong couple of months for Saracens, few would be surprised if he is given the chance to continue in the pivotal role.
Whether Farrell starts or comes off the bench, Robinson, who was previously England head coach having succeeded Sir Clive Woodward, believes the youngster is in for some special treatment.
"Scotland will need to stop England's off-loading game," Robinson told the Mail on Sunday. "They will ask questions of Owen Farrell that not even New Zealand did by being much more in his face. Either Farrell finds a way to deal with it or he will play deeper and deeper."
Robinson resigned for his post as Scotland head coach last November following defeats to South Africa, New Zealand and Tonga. Therefore he has an intimate knowledge of Scotland's strengths and their mindset under interim head coach Scott Johnson.
"Don't underestimate Scotland's attacking prowess as well," Robinson said. "In Tim Visser, for example, they possess, when either put in space or close to the line, one of the best finishers I've ever seen.
"The other potentially key factor is that they will be lifted, as all teams are, by having a new coach. I know Scott Johnson well. I can tell you he has a few tricks up his sleeve which may surprise England."
While Scotland's autumn international campaign ended in ignominy, England's victory over the All Blacks covered over their shortcomings in defeats to Australia and South Africa. And Robinson says the pressure will now be firmly on England following their record-breaking triumph over the New Zealand.
"Before the New Zealand game there was no expectation from anybody outside the England dressing room," said Robinson. "That performance - arguably the best-ever by an England team at Twickenham - has changed everything. All the pressure is on England, the expectation will be high and the longer Scotland stay in the game the more the pressure will mount.'
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene