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Farrell to seal starting spot

World player of the year nominee Owen Farrell will be confirmed as England's starting fly-half against New Zealand on Thursday.

Farrell has reclaimed the England number 10 jersey for the first time in six Tests after Toby Flood was sidelined by a toe injury he suffered in last weekend's 16-15 defeat to South Africa.

England will otherwise start with an unchanged team, although Northampton lock Courtney Lawes and the uncapped Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns come onto the bench.

The All Blacks also named their team on Thursday and Farrell will start at Twickenham opposite Dan Carter - two of the four men on the shortlist for the International Rugby Board's prestigious award.

Carter and Richie McCaw represent the world champions, who head to Twickenham on a 20-match unbeaten run, and France fly-half Frederic Michalak completes the list.

But it is the inclusion of Farrell which created the most surprise, particularly given the likes of Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Wales flanker Dan Lydiate were overlooked.

Farrell started all five of England's RBS 6 Nations matches, switching from inside centre to fly-half for the defeat to Wales and the victories over France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham.

The 21-year-old was dropped after England's first Test defeat to South Africa on the summer tour and he assumed the role of Flood's understudy for the last five Test matches.

Farrell even has to share the fly-half duties for Saracens but England insist his selection against the All Blacks would not be a gamble.

Farrell came on early in England's 14-14 draw with the Springboks in Port Elizabeth and last weekend he pulled the strings as England almost mounted a successful comeback from 16-6 down.


From Belfast Telegraph