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Players "desperate" for selection against France says Farrell

06 March 2012

  • Backs coach praises attitude of players in training
  • England must perform well against "dangerous" French side – Farrell
England backs coach Andy Farrell speaks to players during a training session

Photo: Getty Images

England’s backs coach Andy Farrell is anticipating a "cauldron atmosphere" at the Stade de France on Sunday but says the players are desperate to prove themselves for selection to face the French.

With Toby Flood and Charlie Hodgson perfoming well in Aviva Premiership victories for Leicester and Saracens at the weekend and Owen Farrell producing an assured performance in his first start at ten against Wales, Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster and his coaching staff face a difficult selection choice at fly half.

However, Farrell senior said that competition for places, not just at 10 but across the squad, was tough and that it was the ideal position to be in.

"Over the last couple of games we have made a couple of difficult choices on form and the way that players have played," he said.

"We are pleased with how that went and we have got some difficult decisions to make this week as well because the best thing about this week is that we have got 32 players that are playing well and are in form and are desperate to get picked to play for a big Test match in Paris so it’s a great position to be in."

Last week Ian Ritchie, the newly appointed chief executive officer of the Rugby Football Union, confirmed his intention to appoint a permanent head coach for the senior England side before the tour of South Africa in June.

Graham Rowntree (L), Andy Farrell (R) and Stuart Lancaster share a joke during training in Loughborough

Photo: Getty Images

Lancaster has put himself forward for the role, but Farrell said there had been no distractions for the players in training and praised their "exemplary" attitude.

He said: "There’s no distraction. Definitely when we get out there on the training field the lads had been absolutely brilliant so far as their focus and their attitude and the energy that they bring every day to training. They have been exemplary since day one.

"Whether they go back to their rooms and read the papers or the internet is down to the individual but there has been no talk of anything that is going to happen in the future so far as in the group meetings is concerned. We are fully happy with where we are."

France come into the match against England on the back of a frustrating 17-17 draw with Ireland and Farrell is wary of the threats posed by the World Cup finalists.

Asked about the importance of starting well, he said: "You always want to start a game well because confidence builds but you can start a game well and score a couple of tries in the first ten minutes and some teams lose from there so it’s about playing for the full 80 minutes.

"So we won’t just be concentrating on the start, we will be concentrating on the bigger picture and that is performing well against a very dangerous French side that can break you down from anywhere on the field because of the talent and athletic ability that they have got."