England v New Zealand, December 1
Lancaster to keep the faith with Farrell
ESPN Staff
November 27, 2012
Owen Farrell goes for the posts, France v England, Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, France, March 11, 2012
Owen Farrell looks set to start for England on Saturday © Getty Images
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Teams: England

Stuart Lancaster is set to hand the fly-half reins to Owen Farrell for England's match with New Zealand on Saturday despite the growing clamour for Gloucester's Freddie Burns to get the nod.

Farrell came off the bench for the injured Toby Flood in Saturday's loss to South Africa and slotted two penalties. But with Burns now in the England mix, following his call-up earlier this week, and set to feature in some capacity against the Kiwis on Saturday, there are some who feel the Gloucester half-back should be given the nod with Flood sidelined for the clash.

Burns is the Aviva Premiership's top point-scorer with 143 while Farrell has predominantly played at inside centre for club side Saracens with the now internationally retired Charlie Hodgson preferred at fly-half. But Lancaster is set to keep the faith with Farrell following his impressive showing for England during last season's Six Nations.

Farrell started three of their fives games in last season's northern hemisphere tournament and looks set to be handed the fly-half reins 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 whatsoever.

"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."

But while Lancaster has given his backing to Farrell, Burns' club coach Nigel Davies believes he is ready to step up to Test-level rugby. "Freddie is putting us in the right areas and then he's turning the opportunities into points," Davies said. "I really think he's someone who's on top of his game at the moment.

"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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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