Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Farrell: England are not arrogant

Andy Farrell, pictured, has dismissed criticism of the England squad by Jim Telfer

Andy Farrell insisted he does not recognise the accusation of "arrogance" that has been levelled at the England squad by former Scotland coach Jim Telfer.

Farrell revealed the players have laughed off the jibes, which he dismissed as hackneyed cliches designed to get the Scots fired up before their trip to Twickenham for Saturday's Calcutta Cup showdown. The England management under Stuart Lancaster have worked hard over the last 12 months to eradicate any sense of arrogance from the national team.

Farrell said: "I definitely don't recognise anything he has said. People say this every year about the English anyway. It has stuck now. That is why we take it tongue-in-cheek. We know exactly what we are about."

He added: "A couple of the lads have seen it and they are all taking the mick out of each other. They think it's quite funny about those who have been mentioned. There are a few jokes flying around the place."

Telfer told the Daily Mail that England, who beat New Zealand on the same weekend as Scotland lost to Tonga, are not as good as they think they are. He said: "They are too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending to realise they have a problem."

Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi were named as "very impressionable" players who let the All Blacks win go to their heads. There was credit for England's coaching team of Lancaster, Farrell and Graham Rowntree, who Telfer described as: "All from the north and all down to earth."

Lancaster's first aim when he took interim charge of the England squad a year ago was to reconnect the national team to their roots. In the wake of the 2011 World Cup disappointments, Lancaster wanted to restore a sense of pride in the jersey from within the squad and a sense of pride in the England team from the public.

England now prepare for the RBS 6 Nations in Leeds rather than in Portugal. They drew 6,000 to an open training session at Headingley and Lancaster last Friday held a seminar for 500 grass-roots coaches.

Telfer's comments have certainly stoked the boiler ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener at Twickenham, where Scotland have not won in 30 years. "He's Scottish isn't he, very passionate about his country and he wants to give his lads as much belief as he can," Farrell said.

"He cares about his country. It is him trying to do the right thing by his own country, to try and motivate them. That is what he has always been about really - passion and stirring a few feathers up along the way. It is what you want, a bit of passion."