Elite-shortlisted Farrell unfazed by All Black Test
Owen Farrell’s no-fear mentality marks him out as a special player in the eyes of England coach Stuart Lancaster – and that is how he will approach tomorrow’s clash with New Zealand.
Farrell will start opposite fellow world player of the year nominee Dan Carter after reclaiming England’s outhalf jersey from the injured Toby Flood.
The 21-year-old’s inclusion on the International Rugby Board’s shortlist for the award alongside Carter, Richie McCaw and Frederic Michalak was as much a shock to him as anyone else.
Farrell’s reaction to his nomination was so grounded as to be positively subterranean – and he is not in the least bit fazed about the challenge of taking on Carter and the world champions. “It is very humbling to be alongside the other players on the list. They are all world class,” Farrell said.
“I didn’t really understand it at first. I was getting all these messages and I didn’t know what was going on.
“The lads have congratulated me and so-on but the main focus is this weekend.
“New Zealand are a world class team. They are unbeaten in 20 matches.
“That is the challenge to look forward to. There is no point being scared of it. It’s a game that I love. It’s not a game that I’m scared of.
“It may be a game against the best team in the world but it is still another game of rugby.”
Carter has recovered from a calf injury and will start for the All Blacks’ final Test of the year.
Carter, the standout outhalf in world rugby, missed the 33-10 victory over Six Nations champions Wales in Cardiff but was named in the starting lineup by coach Steve Hansen.
Deputy Aaron Cruden drops to the bench.
England’s traditional strength has been the power of their pack and Hansen has made two changes to his forwards to combat the threat.
Brodie Retallick is preferred in the secondrow to Luke Romano, who scored a try in the win over Wales, while Keven Mealamu is named at hooker in place of Andrew Hore, who was banned for five weeks for striking Welsh lock Bradley Davies on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Wales coach Warren Gatland has made four changes to his line-up for tomorrow’s Test against Australia at the Millennium Stadium.
All the switches are up front following last weekend’s loss to New Zealand, with starts for props Gethin Jenkins and Scott Andrews, lock Ian Evans and flanker Aaron Shingler.
The only form change is in the backrow, where Shingler takes over from former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who is on the bench.
Australia are boosted by the return of flanker David Pocock. Pocock has not featured for the Wallabies since injuring his knee in their opening Rugby Championship fixture against the All Blacks in August, with a niggling calf problem further extending his spell on the sidelines.
Despite Pocock’s return at the expense of Michael Hooper, lock Nathan Sharpe will retain the captaincy as he plays his 116th and final Test before retirement.
WALES (v Australia): L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams: R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, M Rees, S Andrews, I Evans, L Charteris, A Shingler, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau. Replacements: K Owens, R Bevington, S Lee, R Jones, J Tipuric, T Knoyle, D Biggar, S Williams.
AUSTRALIA: B Barnes: N Cummins, A Ashley-Cooper, P Tapuai, D Mitchell; K Beale, N Phipps; B Robinson, T Polota Nau, B Alexander, K Douglas, N Sharpe (capt), S Higginbotham, D Pocock, W Palu. Replacements: S Moore, J Slipper, S Kepu, D Dennis, M Hooper, B McKibbin, M Harris, D Ioane.
ENGLAND (v New Zealand): A Goode; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, M Brown; O Farrell, B Youngs; A Corbisiero, T Youngs, D Cole, J Launchbury, G Parling, T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan. Replacements: D Paice, D Wilson, M Vunipola, C Lawes, J Haskell, D Care, F Burns, J Joseph.
NEW ZEALAND: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw (capt), K Read. Replacements: D Coles, W Crockett, C Faumuina, L Romano, V Vito, P Weepu, A Cruden, Ben Smith.