- Owen Farrell talks to RFUtv about team review post-Ireland
- “It’s not about last year, it’s about now.” – Farrell on Wales
Owen Farrell gave an insight into England’s relentless drive to improve when discussing the victory over Ireland, outlining how the squad veer away from self-congratulation in team meetings.
Stuart Lancaster holds whole squad team forums throughout the week and, discussing the post-Ireland review with RFUtv, Farrell said that while they were happy to grind out a closely-fought tussle, attention quickly turned to how to get better for the next game against Wales.
England lost recent games against New Zealand and France after surging back from an early deficit to gain the lead, but this time held on for a 13-10 victory after Danny Care’s wonderful second-half try gave them a narrow advantage.
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Joking that the tone of the meetings depends on “how many good or bad things they’ve done in the game”, the forthright 22 year-old said: “First and foremost we were proud of the result and proud of the way that we played.
“You make sure that is said [in the meeting] and then you move on to what we could have done better. It was big to close out a close game. We did leave a couple of opportunities out there but the intensity that we played at and the intent we had in the game was great.
“To show that we were still capable of defending like that at the end when we had put so much into the getting back into the game was fantastic. It shows the effort the boys have been putting in and shows what it means to us.”
Reigning champions Wales are the next visitors to Twickenham on Sunday, March 9, with a first Triple Crown since 2003 standing as motivation for Lancaster’s troops. Farrell was on the British and Irish Lions tour with many Welsh players and while his respect for them has only increased, they will be treated in the same manner as any other opponents.
The Saracens fly half said: “I got to know a few of the lads really well. You have massive respect for these players before you go on tour for what they’ve achieved in their careers. But then you go on tour and get to know them as people as well and see that they are good blokes, that respect goes up.
“But as far as this game is concerned, it’s just another game. You treat them exactly as you would treat anyone and then after the game you have a good catch-up and see how everyone is going.”
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Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland makes no secret of his robust, direct game-plan, sending powerful backline runners such as Jamie Roberts and George North hurtling at opposition defences at every opportunity.
Indeed, Farrell pinpointed the midfield gainline battle as crucial and explained how it effects how the rest of the game unfolds.
Adding that he must take the emotion stirred by last season’s record defeat in Cardiff out of the equation to maintain clarity of thought in his key decision-making role, Farrell added: “We need to make sure we’re ready for what is coming. They’ve got some big blokes in the backline and you need to make sure that you win the gainline battle because if you do that then their forwards have to do a lot of work to get around the corner on us.
“If we want to get to where we want to be, we need to make sure we’re better each time we step out on the field. The next game is Wales and that’s the only important thing. It’s not about last year, it’s about now.
“I’m sure some of the bigger fellas will get a bit emotional about it and get a bit revved up, but it’s about us playing smart, so we need to be thinking.”