- Backs coach Andy Farrell not fazed by late changes
- "This is what rugby is all about and these are the days that you live for" – Farrell
England backs coach Andy Farrell is anticipating an "intense atmosphere" at Twickenham today for the visit of Triple Crown-chasing Wales and has called for his charges to assert themselves on the match from the start.
Despite the hosts having to make a late alteration to their starting line-up, with Manu Tuilagi coming in for the injured Charlie Hodgson, Farrell was certain that the backline would not be disrupted in the slightest.
"You always look at the different permutations and the combination of players you may have to use in different positions," he explained. "Everyone needs to know where they would be if someone went off with an injury anyway.
"Charlie has missed a couple of training sessions this week and Owen [Farrell, who will now wear the number 10 jersey] has taken over then anyway. It has been an easy transition.
"Manu has been learning both the centre position and a role on the wing for the past couple of weeks and is super keen to get back and play at Twickenham. You could see the twinkle in his eye when he got told he was starting so he’s ready to go."
Both of Wales’ RBS 6 Nations victories, as well as an impressive Rugby World Cup campaign last autumn, have featured some eye-catching running from a much-vaunted backline. Farrell continued by paying tribute to fly half Rhys Priestland, who will be largely responsible for unleashing that talent this afternoon.
"We don’t try to single one player out but he does pull the strings for them, along with [scrum half] Mike Phillips," added Farrell, when asked if England would be looking to target Priestland in defence.
Photo: Getty Images
"The players are aware that he is an important cog in their wheel. He is playing well has really come of age in the last year.
"You can look at every single team and get distracted with what they are good at, though. Now, we have to get a few things right ourselves. We want to impose our style of play on the game as well."
Farrell, heading into his first match as an international coach at HQ, finished on an enthusiastic note, detailing the emotion that he expects from the occasion.
"It doesn’t get any better," he said. "We have quite a few new guys who are playing for their country for the first time here. With 82,000 fans, the atmosphere will be right behind them.
"There is obviously a passionate rivalry between the two countries, with the added spice of them doing well at the World Cup and us having a new team.
"Both sides are two from two and, going into this third game, there will be an intense atmosphere. This is what rugby is all about and these are the days that you live for."