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 fly-half 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, after an embarrassed chuckle.
"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 just another game of rugby."
Farrell's inclusion is the only change to England's starting XV from last weekend's 16-15 defeat to South Africa, although Northampton lock Courtney Lawes and Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns are on the substitutes bench.
The world champions head to Twickenham on the back of a 20-match unbeaten run, while England are desperate to put two frustrating defeats to bed.
"I know we've been on the wrong side of two results, but we've got better and better as the weeks have gone on and we've pushed teams right to the end," Farrell said.
"Hopefully, it's time to win one this weekend."