Sunday 21 December 2014

England wunderkind Owen Farrell gets chance to prove himself against world’s best Carter

Alex Lowe

Published 29/11/2012 | 15:11

OWEN FARRELL will start opposite fellow world player of the year nominee Dan Carter after being confirmed as England's fly-half against New Zealand.



Farrell has reclaimed the England number 10 jersey for the first time in six Tests after Toby Flood was sidelined by a toe injury he suffered in last weekend's 16-15 defeat to South Africa.

England will otherwise start with an unchanged team, although Northampton lock Courtney Lawes and the uncapped Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns come onto the bench.

Farrell and Carter are two of the four men on the shortlist for the International Rugby Board's prestigious award, along with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and France fly-half Frederic Michalak.

Farrell made his debut in the Six Nations and his temperament impressed Lancaster as he guided England to victories over France and Ireland from fly-half.

The 21-year-old was dropped after England's first Test defeat to South Africa on the summer tour, but played a key role off the bench in a 14-14 draw with the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.

Farrell has to share the fly-half duties for Saracens with Charlie Hodgson, but England insist his selection against the All Blacks was not a gamble.

"Owen had an outstanding season in the Six Nations. He contributed massively," Lancaster said.

"I don't think his form dropped off as many suggested at the end of last season. He had had a long, hard season.

"He had a slow start to his season with a shoulder injury but in the last four weeks he has been outstanding in training."

New Zealand also named their team this morning and Carter will start at Twickenham after recovering from an Achilles injury as the All Blacks aim to extend a 20-Test unbeaten run.

England head into their final game of the QBE autumn series on the back of frustrating defeats to Australia (20-14) and South Africa (16-15) and conceding a gulf of experience to the All Blacks.

Flood was England's most experienced player, the only member of the squad with more than 50 caps. England's starting XV on Saturday will boast a combined total of just 206 caps compared to New Zealand's 788.

"We are ready for it," Lancaster added. "We felt we had put in a performance that deserved a win last week and it is about using that frustration in a positive way.

"Nothing is bigger than the All Blacks at Twickenham. We want to give the crowd something to shout about and a win.

"It will be a huge challenge this weekend. We will need to be at our best in all areas to take on a formidable challenge in the All Blacks. They are at full strength."

Lawes returns to the match-day squad in place of Mouritz Botha after recovering from a knee injury he suffered in his last game for Northampton before the autumn series.

The Saints lock has endured an injury-hit 2012, with a shin problem limiting him to just one bench appearance in the Six Nations and ruling him out of the summer tour.

Burns, who comes into the squad for Flood, has been in prime form for Gloucester this season and is the leading points scorer in the Aviva Premiership.

"We are delighted that Courtney has got an opportunity," Lancaster said.

"He has worked hard to get back in contention and what better game for him to make an impact.

"Freddie has been outstanding in the Premiership this season. He brings a special quality in terms of his creativity. His kicking game and his game management has improved this season."

A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins); O Farrell (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester); A Corbisiero (London Irish), T Youngs (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), T Wood (Northampton), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Gloucester).

Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester), J Joseph (London Irish).

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