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Ford and Farrell: England's friendly foes

11 June 2011

  • England U20 pair George Ford and Owen Farrell talk each other up
  • To do what he's done over the past few months is outstanding – Ford
England U20 pair George Ford (L) and Owen Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

They might be rivals for the same spot, but there is no bad blood between Leicester Tigers' George Ford and Saracens' Owen Farrell.

Far from it. In fact, the England pair have nothing but the most fulsome praise for each other’s game.

It is a measure of the depth of talent in his squad that coach Rob Hunter left Farrell on the bench for Friday’s IRB Junior World Championship opener against Ireland, a game England won 33-25.

That was also Hunter's selection for the last meeting between the sides when England clinched the 6 Nations Grand Slam in March with a 46-15 win in Athlone, with Ford the man who made the team tick.

Since then, Farrell has outplayed England fly half Toby Flood and scored 17 points as Sarries beat Leicester 22-18 in the Aviva Premiership final, but Ford held onto the No.10 jersey in Treviso.

Farrell had no qualms Hunter's decision to stick with his 6 Nations playmaker, saying that he is just as happy to play at inside centre, a position he is more than comfortable with.

"George is one step ahead of everyone else on the rugby field," Farrell said from the team hotel in Abano Terme.

"He sees things before others see them and that's an amazing skill to have. It's unteachable. He sees space early and takes his opportunities when he can, his kicking game is second to none and his reading of the game puts him above others.

"He's a very easy player to play with. We get on very well and we've known each other for years now and we know how each other work.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that we have a rivalry for the 10 jersey. I've only really started playing there for the past year or so and I'm happy to play either 10 or 12 here in Italy to suit the team and aid us the best way I can."

George Ford, Owen Farrell and other members of the England U20 squad pre-meal

Photo: RFU Archive

The admiration is mutual it seems.

"To do what he's done over the past few months is outstanding,” Ford said of his teammate. "To not only be an Aviva Premiership winner but to also have a 100 per cent kicking record in the Premiership final at just 19 is an amazing achievement.

"He's a top communicator and he holds real presence on the pitch, not just to me when we play alongside each other at 10 and 12, but to the whole team.

"He's a physical player with a strong kicking game and he's not afraid to stick a tackle in, so it's a massive bonus for us to have him out here because we're a stronger squad when he is.

"He's very easy to play alongside. We've played with each other for getting on for six years now and I think that we have a good relationship on and off the pitch and complement each other's game."