‘I’m only going to get better,’ England fly-half Owen Farrell warns 6 Nations rivals
Owen Farrell may have already eclipsed New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter but he warned England's RBS 6 Nations opponents that his best is yet to come.
Farrell kicked 17 points in England's sensational 38-21 victory over the All Blacks on December 1 and he has continued that same match-winning form for Saracens.
Against Racing Metro, Farrell scored 32 points from 11 shots at goal and he is in pole position to be England's Six Nations fly-half.
"I think I showed bits of what I can do against New Zealand," Farrell said,
"I can always get better."
That is Farrell in a nut-shell.
It is not lazy to compare Farrell with Jonny Wilkinson, England's erstwhile world-beating fly-half who still strives for betterment even now, in the dusk days of his career.
Farrell has that same attitude. There are other fly-halves in England who play the game with greater elan but none who boast his "warrior spirit". In short, he is a winner and that is priceless.
As a teenager new to the strange game of rugby union, having followed his father in switching from league when the family moved south, Farrell studied Wilkinson.
He had been brought up in a professional rugby environment, often accompanying Andy Farrell to training at Wigan and mixing with and learning from the best players in the world.
After he delivered that faultless performance against Racing in the Heineken Cup, England's head coach Stuart Lancaster acclaimed Farrell as a unique young talent with qualities that bely his years.
"He has that competitive fire and temperament you look for in elite players which is quite unique among young players," Lancaster said.
"From the moment he came into the England camp as a 20-year-old his maturity, his game understanding, his inner confidence and temperament has shone out.
"It was that which gave me the confidence in the Six Nations last year to promote him to start.
"A proven goal-kicker is crucial at the highest level. It is not just that but his management of the game has improved, his maturity.
"He has really moved on since that New Zealand performance. He is playing in big games now and playing extremely well."
Farrell proved his mettle for Test rugby during the 2012 championship, stepping up to play fly-half in the narrow defeat to Wales and the landmark wins against France and Ireland.
Although he suffered a dip in form and lost his place on the summer tour of South Africa, Farrell responded in the way Lancaster knew he would.
"He understood the reasons why and we had a good chat," Lancaster said.
"The one thing about Owen is that he never sulked or moaned, he just rolled his sleeves up and worked harder at his game. He is playing extremely well."
Farrell duly reclaimed the prized 10 jersey during the autumn Tests and he epitomised the character that saw England bounce back from the disappointment of two narrow defeat to demolish the world champions.
"There is a lot of fight in this team, there is a champions' attitude," Farrell said.
"If we take our game to the opposition, it doesn't matter who we are playing we are going to trouble them."