Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All Blacks Shock Gives Lancaster Slam Belief

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All Blacks Shock Gives Lancaster Slam Belief

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

OWEN FARRELL was today handed the task of kicking England to Grand Slam glory in the white-hot atmosphere of the Millennium Stadium.

The fly-half has recovered from the leg strain which forced him to sit out the 18-11 win over Italy on Sunday, when his replacement, Toby Flood, kicked all of England's points.

Farrell is thankful that he was able to rest and he now feels in shape for the Grand Slam showdown with Wales.

"It was touch and go for last week and I hadn't done any kicking," he said. "It just hurt every time I kicked the ball against France and it could have been anything that caused the injury.

"Irrespective about what happens in Cardiff we are happy with our progression and if you had said we would be in this position a year ago we would have snatched your hand off."

Farrell did not enjoy his best day against France but he will bring control and defensive ferocity which England will need on Saturday.

"I am sure Owen will be ready for some work," said Stuart Lancaster. "We have got a big challenge coming our way but we will be ready for it."

The head coach believes the memory of beating New Zealand at home in December will stand his men in good stead for Cardiff.

"When you look at this Welsh side, there are not many weaknesses," said Lancaster. "It will take an outstanding effort but we have done it before, we have been to away games and won. We have played the best side in the world at home and won.

"We have to deal with the occasion and play with composure and accuracy. There is a quiet self-belief."

Lancaster has responded to his team's disappointing showing against Italy by making four changes with Ben Youngs linking up with Farrell and Tom Croft given a starting role at blind-side flanker.

In the final change, Harlequins' Joe Marler has won the No1 jersey back from Saracens prop Mako Vunipola whose work in the loose, where his ball carrying makes important yardage, was not enough to win the vote.

With Ben Morgan still not fully recovered from his ankle injury, England are Wales replacements: K Owens, P James, S Andrews, A Coombs, A Shingler, L Williams, J Hook, S Williams England replacements: D Hartley, D Wilson, M Vunipola, C Lawes, J Haskell, D Care, T Flood, B Twelvetrees short of genuine ball carriers but the coaches are more concerned about the form of the two experienced Wales props Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, who returns to captain the side at loose-head after a calf problem. …

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