Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Farrell: Teams will fear England

Courtney Lawes' defence was at fault against France
Courtney Lawes' defence was at fault against France

Andy Farrell has insisted England are developing into one of the most feared defensive sides in world rugby, even though they missed 21 tackles in the win against France.

Farrell is not concerned with those statistics from the 23-13 RBS 6 Nations victory, arguing that some missed tackles should be seen as a natural consequence of the high-pressure defensive system England use to rattle the opposition.

"Everyone goes off the missed tackle statistics. I look at it differently," Farrell said.

Courtney Lawes was identified as a case in point. Lawes was criticised for the number of tackles he missed against France, including one in the build-up to Wesley Fofana's try.

Farrell acknowledged the miss on Fofana was a mistake but Lawes' main job was to instil fear and doubt in the minds of the French. The intent was almost more important than the execution.

And when Italy arrive at Twickenham on Sunday, Farrell vowed that Grand Slam-chasing England will be ready to send them into some very dark places.

Farrell said: "I wouldn't want us to be a passive defensive side that back off and doesn't put pressure on the opposition. If you do that, there will be misses here and there. There is a difference between a glaring one-on-one missed tackle when you are isolated (like Lawes' on Fofana) and the team going, 'Let's go and get them'.

"If somebody like Courtney gets off the line and puts the fear of whatever into somebody's mind, the next time that guy is taking the ball up he is not thinking pretty thoughts.

"We are a side that likes to force errors on the opposition and make sure they realise it will be a physical, hard game. It is definitely part of our mantra.

"That is why we are hard to play against. We want to have a reputation that we are a force to be reckoned with as far as defence is concerned."

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