Six Nations
Farrell plays down Edwards match-up
ESPN Staff
March 13, 2013
Coach Andy Farrell gives his instructions to the England team,  England training, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, March 15, 2012
Andy Farrell will hope to lead England to their first Grand Slam since 2003 © Getty Images

England coach Andy Farrell has played down suggestions that his match-up against former Wigan team-mate Shaun Edwards will be a distraction come Saturday.

The pair played together at Wigan but will sit in opposite coaching boxes at the Millennium Stadium come Saturday. Edwards will be aiming to retain the championship title with Wales and Farrell will be looking to mastermind England's first Grand Slam triumph in a decade.

But Farrell is keen to dismiss any notion of Saturday's decider being a head-to-head between the Wiganers. "I don't see it as me and Shaun head-to-head, it's the players who are head to head," Farrell said. "What I would say is that I look at his coaching and playing career - everything he's won so far - and his record is second to none. You can see why that is if you know him deep down.

"As a coach you want to be as good as you possibly can be. That's probably governed by the teams you can build and grow but ultimately at the top level you want to win stuff and Sean's won a lot. I see him as an experienced coach who's been there and done that against a young coach that's hoping to get there. I'm like our players, really. I'm new to these occasions."

The battle between the Farrell and Edwards defences will be integral to the destiny of the championship title on Saturday. Wales have not conceded a try in three matches while England's defensive-structure is focused around high-intensity and physicality. And there is also the sub-plot of the British & Irish Lions coaching team.

Farrell's impact with England was recognised by Warren Gatland who picked him ahead of Edwards for Lions duty. The decision hurt Edwards deeply but the feeling of respect between the two men is mutual.

"I asked him for advice as a kid. He was one of the leaders within the great Wigan side who took me under their wing as a 16-year-old," Farrell said. "Shaun used to put me in his car and took me to see his agent. He used to say: 'I'll look after you and show you my agent if you promise me you'll be my captain when I'm a coach'.

"He would have been 24 or 25 at that time and already knew he wanted to be a coach. He saw me as a young kid who he wanted a relationship with. I suppose that's how it is when you're from a small town. When it comes to occasions like this we'll have a beer afterwards but beforehand we're both as professional as each other."

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