England head coach Stuart Lancaster praises Owen Farrell's goal-kicking ability
Last Updated: January 15, 2013 7:34am
Stuart Lancaster (L) has lavished praise on fly-half Owen Farrell (R)
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has heaped praise on Owen Farrell, commending the fly-half's goal-kicking ability and ever-increasing maturity.
Farrell helped himself to a 32-point haul in Saracens' Heineken Cup victory over Racing Metro on Saturday, landing 11 kicks from 11 attempts and extending his run of consecutive successful shots at goal to 29.
Lancaster believes that kind of relentless accuracy will weigh heavy on the minds of England's Six Nations opponents.
But it is not only Farrell's prowess with the boot that has impressed the England supremo as he went on to acclaim the 21-year-old's all-round development as a player.
"I can't think of a time when I have seen someone kick 11 from 11 before," Lancaster stated. "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.
"He has that competitive fire and temperament you look for in elite players which is quite unique among young players.
"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."
Farrell now seems the obvious candidate to start at stand-off for England in the forthcoming Six Nations campaign, although Leicester's Toby Flood and Gloucester's Freddie Burns will both be looking to stake their claims for the No.10 jersey.
With the England management anxious to drive competition for places, Lancaster refused to confirm who is first-choice would be, but went on to commend Farrell for the way he has responded after being overlooked during last year's tour of South Africa.
"Toby got his opportunity in South Africa and Owen went to bench. 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.
"We've got an idea in our mind (of who will play at fly-half in the Six Nations) but you don't want to create any complacency.
"Owen had the shirt in the last game and he's going to want to hang onto it. It's all down to performances before the camp and training within the camp. We'll have a good few days.
"I want Toby, Freddie and Owen to be competitive and competing for the shirt."