- Farrell prepared to fight for starting place
- Fly half says Tuilagi would be a weapon on the wing
Owen Farrell says the “huge privilege” of England involvement has proved a welcome tonic for a gut-wrenching Aviva Premiership final defeat with Saracens.
As one of 16 players to fly Down Under two days after the domestic climax at Twickenham, which saw Northampton Saints triumph 24-20 after extra-time, Farrell admitted that having something “to get his teeth into” was preferable to “sulking at home”.
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Indeed, now reintegrated with the squad that were ousted by New Zealand in Saturday’s first Test at Eden Park, the fly half is determined to help Stuart Lancaster’s charges level the three-match series this weekend in Dunedin.
“I thought it was a very good performance [in Auckland],” he explained. “I thought we were cohesive and everybody was playing their part.
“Everybody here definitely thinks we can get better as a team and hopefully that will always be the case. There’s a lot of learning to take out of the first Test. I’m sure [the All Blacks] will come back stronger but I’m sure we will too.”
As Farrell acknowledged himself, a starting berth is by no means a formality – even given his excellent performances over the RBS 6 Nations. Many players, not least No.10 Freddie Burns and his replacement Danny Cipriani, put in prominent, assured displays during England’s brave 20-15 loss.
However, exuding the proud awareness of heritage that has characterised Lancaster’s tenure, Farrell suggested that it would mean a great deal to return to the tourists’ match-day 23.
“The performance always has to be high playing in an England shirt. It’s a huge privilege to play for England and you have to do the shirt justice every time you go out there.
“We’ve spoken about what it means to be English and the history of the shirt, what people have done for our country too.
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“It’s everything to play for your country and have the chance to show what it means by putting a performance in. Everybody wants to do that justice.”
England’s midfield could see a drastic overhaul for Saturday’s clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium. With Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell – the first-choice centre partnership this spring – available, Lancaster has hinted that Manu Tuilagi could shift onto the wing.
As part of an England Under 18 back division featuring a young Manu out wide, Farrell was evidently excited about the prospect – highlighting the Leicester Tiger’s astonishing ability to beat defenders one-on-one.
“At age-grade rugby we just tended to give him the ball to see what happened,” he added. “But he’s still a massive threat now.
“To have him anywhere on the field brings a lot to any team. To have him there will create opportunities; we would have a powerful backline.”