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Farrell won't end Ford friendship

Published 13/08/2015

Owen Farrell is battling for the fly-half role at the Rugby World Cup
Owen Farrell is battling for the fly-half role at the Rugby World Cup

Owen Farrell insists his close friendship with George Ford remains intact despite their fierce rivalry for England's fly-half duties.

Farrell has the chance to press his claim for a starting spot at the World Cup after being asked to pull the strings in Saturday's warm-up match against France at Twickenham.

It will be his first England appearance since last autumn, a series that saw him dropped from the starting XV against Australia following a dip in form and his luck deteriorated further when a knee injury forced him to miss the entire RBS 6 Nations.

Ford has excelled in his absence and head coach Stuart Lancaster stated last week that the Bath playmaker remains first choice in the number 10 jersey.

Both will be involved in the World Cup as part of the matchday 23, but there is time for Farrell to prove he should direct England this autumn at the expense of his former school friend.

"Yes it's easy to keep our friendship because it's all about the team. We want to do well individually and the players who are here will give everything to achieve that," Farrell said.

"If someone is picked in the end and you aren't when you've given everything, you can still hold your head up high."

Danny Cipriani is also in contention for World Cup selection, although as third choice his only possible route to England 2015 is if Lancaster takes a utility player by sacrificing a specialist wing or full-back.

"There are three players here who are trying to do their best for the country and for the team. They want to improve themselves and push those around them for this team," Farrell said.

"I've no doubt the other two see it as the same as me - as long as we push ourselves as much as we can we'll be happy."

Farrell will be playing outside an uncapped centre partnership of Sam Burgess and Henry Slade, with the rookie midfield pair competing with each other for a place among the final 31 to appear at the World Cup.

Burgess, whose role is to get England over the gainline at inside centre, has only been playing union since his cross-code move last October but Farrell believes his big game experience in league will prove beneficial.

"Sam has been in camp for a long time now and has improved week on week," Farrell said.

"I'm very excited to get out there and play alongside him and to play with a character like that. Hopefully he'll get the opportunity to show what he can do.

"Sam has a lot of experience of playing in big games on the big stage. You'll have seen the character that he has in the games he's played in rugby league and for Bath. I hope he gets a chance to show it in England colours."

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