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Farrell fit and ready for England

Owen Farrell has shrugged off any concerns over his fitness by declaring himself ready to mastermind England's assault on New Zealand at Twickenham.

Farrell has started just two matches for Saracens this season and just once since September 20 after spending a month on the sidelines treating a quad strain.

Such is England's faith in the 23-year-old that he will start against the All Blacks on the strength of having finished a Champions Cup game against Munster a fortnight earlier.

Farrell will enter Saturday's QBE Series opener armed with the full backing of head coach Stuart Lancaster and the self-belief he is ready to plot the world champions' downfall.

"The Munster game showed I can play a full game of rugby, but I've felt good for a bit longer than that," Farrell said.

"I'd pushed to come back a little bit earlier than when I did, but having one or two more weeks was probably the right thing to do.

"I feel like I've kept up to speed with everything, made sure I've done my work off the field and also kept up with my skills on it. So if I was selected I'd be confident."

Farrell viewed his rehabilitation as the chance to swat up on the tactical theory of fly-half play.

"I was watching enough rugby that I was still improving even though I was injured," Farrell said.

"As a fly-half you try to watch a game and see all the decisions that have been made.

"You ask yourself what you'd do in that situation and what effect that decision has on the game.

"Sometimes doing that, for me, is better than having a training session."

Lancaster stated on Monday that the All Blacks can not be mastered through goalkicking alone, instead highlighting the importance of scoring tries against the sport's most clinical team.

Farrell has picked up the baton by stressing the need to carry the fight to Richie McCaw's tourists and feels victory would justify his conviction that England are heading in an upwards trajectory.

"We have to be positive. We won't go into the game trying to just hold them out, we will go in and have a go," Farrell said.

"If that positivity turns into pressure and you get three points from it then that is the case, but we will be positive in the way that we play.

"As a group we feel we are definitely going in the right direction, but we have to put in the performances to back that up. Hopefully those performances will turn into wins.

"It is important we keep getting better and we keep pushing each other along and that we are constantly striving to be the best we can be.

"As long as we are doing that, the performances will come."

England have lost their last four matches against New Zealand, including a whitewash on their summer tour, but their 38-21 mauling of the world champions at Twickenham in 2012 remains in the memory banks.

"We respect what the All Blacks do, but we don't fear them. They have a record that we respect, but they're not invincible," forwards coach Graham Rowntree said.

"They are the benchmark and beating them would be a great way to kickstart the autumn."


From Belfast Telegraph