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Farrell to square off against Carter

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iol spt nov29 Owen Farell

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Owen Farrell will be in direct opposition to fellow world player of the year nominee Dan Carter after being named as England's flyhalf against New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday. Photo by David Rogers

London – Owen Farrell will be in direct opposition to fellow world player of the year nominee Dan Carter after being named as England's flyhalf against New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

Farrell has reclaimed the England No 10 shirt for the first time in six Tests after Toby Flood was ruled out by a toe injury he suffered in last weekend's 16-15 loss to South Africa.

The inclusion of Farrell is the only change to England's starting XV, with the place he held on the bench going to uncapped Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns.

England coach Stuart Lancaster made one other change among his replacements, recalling fit-again Northampton lock Courtney Lawes in place of Mouritz Botha.

Farrell and former winner Carter were two of the four men named Wednesday on the shortlist for the International Rugby Board's prestigious award, along with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw Ä

himself a previous multiple winner of the prize Ä and France fly-half Frederic Michalak.

New Zealand named their side earlier Thursday with the world champions including Carter following an Achilles injury, although he must still pass a late fitness test.

The All Blacks are currently on a 20-match unbeaten run and have won nine straight Tests against England since a 15-13 home loss shortly before the Red Rose brigade lifted the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

England, by contrast, are looking to finish 2012 with a flourish following defeats this month by Australia (20-14) and South Africa (16-15).

“We asked for a big response from the players after Australia and we got one last Saturday against South Africa, although ultimately we were denied,” said Lancaster after naming his team on Thursday.

“That frustration has been channelled this week and the whole squad has reacted with a determination to get a victory against the top team in the world.”

Farrell started in all five of England's Six Nations matches this year, moving from inside centre to fly-half for the defeat by Wales and the wins against France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham.

But he was dropped after England's first Test defeat in South Africa in June and has since been Flood's deputy for the last five internationals.

The 21-year-old Farrell even has to share fly-half duties at club side Saracens with former England No 10 Charlie Hodgson.

However, that didn't stop an IRB panel chaired by former Australia captain John Eales nominating him for the player of the year award.

“I know the other three players are three world class players and it is very humbling to be alongside them,” said Farrell.

But the young stand-off insisted he was undaunted by the prospect of facing the All Blacks.

“It may be a game against the best team in the world but it is still another game of rugby,” Farrell said.

“I have been in a good place. I have been coming off the bench but I feel I have been getting better and better as the weeks have been going on.

“This weekend is going to be a step up but one we are looking forward to.”

Lancaster has been impressed by the composure Farrell showed when called on as a replacement to help England draw 14-14 with the Springboks in the third Test in Port Elizabeth in June, and when he took over from Flood early in the second half last week and almost steered the side to victory from 16-6 down.

“I suppose it is a big ask for any 10 to play against the best in the world,” said Farrell's father Andy, the England assistant coach.

“It is not a gamble. He is comfortable in the environment. The lads are comfortable with him being there. He is in a good place.”

England (15-1)

Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Wood; Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury; Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Alex Corbisiero

Replacements: David Paice, David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Danny Care, Freddie Burns, Jonathan Joseph – Sapa-AFP


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