England coach Stuart Lancaster backs Owen Farrell for start against New Zealand at Twickenham
Last Updated: 27/11/12 2:55pm
Owen Farrell: Set for England start v New Zealand
Owen Farrell looks set to get the start at fly-half for England's big game with New Zealand next week with Stuart Lancaster indicating he has enough credit in the bank to beat off competition from newcomer Freddie Burns.
Gloucester's Burns is in the squad in place of the injured Toby Flood and is set to be included in England's matchday 23 for the first time after leading the Premiership with 143 points from eight starts.
There is a growing clamour for Burns' inclusion in a bid to sharpen England's attacking edge and Farrell's time at fly-half has been limited this season, but Lancaster has faith in the 21-year-old Saracen.
Farrell kicked important goals at fly-half in the victories over France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham in this year's Six Nations, and Lancaster has faith he can perform well against the All Blacks.
"Owen has a lot of credit in the bank from what he achieved for us in the Six Nations," Lancaster said. "He had a long hard season and I don't think his form drifted off as dramatically as people made out. I know he has been a bit frustrated, he had a slow start to the season because of an injury.
"He has trained well. He looked comfortable and accomplished when he came on (against South Africa). I have no problem with Owen whatsover.
"I am disappointed for Toby but I'm excited to get Freddie in the squad, to have a player coming in who is playing well and confident.
"I am not sitting here worried about Freddie coming in. He is a quality player. I want more strength and depth in every position and he gives us that. It is a great opportunity for him."
Lancaster will confirm his starting line-up to face the All Blacks on Thursday morning, and Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies believes he is ready for the step up to Test rugby.
"Freddie is putting us in the right areas and then he's turning the opportunities into points. I really think he's someone who's on top of his game at the moment," Davies said.
"I think he's playing superbly well. I think he's got everything an international outside-half needs.
"I think what we've seen from him this season is a maturity that perhaps wasn't there in the past but his game management has been excellent."