Stuart Lancaster says Owen Farrell must excel in warm-up games to replace George Ford

Stuart Lancaster insists Owen Farrell must excel during the World Cup warm-up matches if he is displace George Ford as England’s fly-half.

Ford took advantage of Farrell’s injury-enforced absence during the 2015 RBS 6 Nations by bringing a new dimension to the Red Rose attacking game and remains the incumbent in the position.

When the two faced off for Bath and Saracens in the Aviva Premiership final two months later, it was Farrell who emerged as the outstanding playmaker in a one-sided afternoon at Twickenham.

Opinions are divided over who should be England’s fly-half with the creative spark offered Ford offset by the reliability and temperament of Farrell, while Danny Cipriani is an outsider in the race at 10.

Lancaster will use the trio of warm-up games, which start against France on August 15, to clarify his thinking but suggests it is Ford who is in the driving seat. “George was exceptional during the Six Nations and for Bath beyond that, so Owen’s going to have to go over and beyond to get the shirt back off him. But knowing Owen as I do....” head coach Lancaster said.

“Danny obviously has to then get himself above those two to get his opportunity. I’ll create opportunities for all of them and that will help dictate. George is in a strong position at the moment, but he needs to play well because he’s competing against good players.”

Of the four centres Lancaster will take to England 2015, Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph are certainties, leaving Sam Burgess, Henry Slade, Luther Burrell, Kyle Eastmond and Billy Twelvetrees as the remaining contenders. The 45-strong squad that returned to Pennyhill Park on Sunday will be reduced by eight or nine players on Friday, with Eastmond and Twelvetrees among those expected to be sent home.


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