Six Nations
Lancaster hails Farrell development
ESPN Staff
January 15, 2013
Saracens' Owen Farrell kicks for goal, Saracens v Northampton, Aviva Premiership, stadium:mk, Milton Keynes, England, December 30, 2012
Owen Farrell was on target with 11 kicks from 11 as Saracens beat Racing Metro © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Owen Farrell
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: England | Saracens

England coach Stuart Lancaster believes Owen Farrell's kicking ability will strike fear into the hearts of their opponents in this year's Six Nations.

The Saracens playmaker is in red-hot form with his boot and he showed just how much damage he can cause opponents when he kicked 10 penalties and a conversion to guide his team to a 37-28 win away to Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup at the weekend and take his tally for successful kicks at goal to 29.

Having contributed 17 points with the boot in England's 38-21 win over New Zealand at the end of 2012, Lancaster is under no illusions how important he will be to England's campaign.

"I can't think of a time when I have seen someone kick 11 from 11 before," Lancaster said. "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."

For the Six Nations Farrell will face competition for the No. 10 shirt from Leicester's Toby Flood and Gloucester's Freddie Burns, who made his Test debut when he came on for Farrell in the win over the All Blacks.

Burns was also in good form for his club over the weekend as he scored 26 points in Gloucester's Amlin Challenge Cup win against Bordeaux Begles. Flood, meanwhile scored a penalty and a conversion as Leicester drew 15-15 away to the Ospreys and Lancaster hopes that all three can transfer their club form to the international arena and push each other to perform to their very best.

"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.

"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. I want Toby, Freddie and Owen to be competitive and competing for the shirt."

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