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Fly-half variety 'good for England'

Stuart Lancaster's fly-half conundrum could give England the edge in their quest to win the Rugby World Cup this summer, according to former Scotland and British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan.

George Ford and Owen Farrell are both in the running to start the tournament in the number 10 jersey with Lancaster set to hand Farrell the chance to impress in a trio of warm-up games later this month.

Many see it as a straight choice between Ford's creativity and Farrell's reliability but McGeechan is convinced both men can have a major part to play in any prospective England triumph.

McGeechan told Press Association Sport: "I think it is a great problem for Stuart to have because he has two players who can run the game in not quite the same way.

"That variety could give England an edge because Stuart can set up the game slightly differently - some games will suit one and some the other."

McGeechan pointed out New Zealand's fly-half issues in their ultimately successful 2011 campaign when Stephen Donald - effectively the team's fourth choice - stepped in to play a vital role in repelling the French.

"New Zealand came in four years ago and they were looking for a fly-half, then Donald came in and won it for them," added McGeechan. "It is important for both players to be competing well because we have seen that anything can happen."

Meanwhile McGeechan cast doubts on the wisdom a World Cup seeding system which means at least one of England, Australia and Wales is guaranteed to exit the tournament at the group stage.

But he is convinced that the successful side in the so-called 'group of death' will be in a much better place to make an impression once the first phase is out of the way.

"Which ever team misses out will probably say it wasn't a good idea and I think it would have been better to split the group if I'm honest," added McGeechan.

"But now it has given us another mini-tournament within the tournament. Who ever comes out of the group will be in a really good position - coming through such a competitive environment to get to the knockout stages will make them one of the teams to beat."


From Belfast Telegraph