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French stick gives England belief

Andy Farrell is backing England to snatch the 2014 RBS 6 Nations title from Ireland's fingertips - with a little help from old foes France.

The climatic day of the tournament opens at the Stadio Olimpico where Stuart Lancaster's men will attempt to rout Italy before relocating to the post-match function to watch events in Paris unfold.

Offering the most realistic chance of a first Six Nations crown under Lancaster is France spoiling Brian O'Driscoll's international farewell and being crowned champions on points difference.

Les Bleus' typically erratic form makes the outcome of the final match fiendishly difficult to predict, but Farrell senses they are ready to do England a favour - six weeks after destroying their Grand Slam dream.

"We've got a good chance of winning the title because the French are at their best when their backs are against the wall," England's backs coach said.

"A few questions have been asked of the French team recently and it's all come to bit of a head this week with people walking out of press conferences because they're being challenged.

"When you get the French in that type of situation, they can be very dangerous.

"It's out of our hands and we can only concentre on our match and make sure we look after ourselves and make sure we do the business.

"That's what we're focusing on. Obviously we'll be excited to watch the other game as part of the England camp, but also as a rugby spectator. It's an intriguing day ahead."

Manu Tuilagi has been named on the bench in the hope his firepower will enable England to produce the avalanche of tries needed to reel in Ireland's superior points difference of plus 49.

It will be the 22-year-old's first appearance for England in a year and Farrell is backing him to spread mayhem in Italy's ranks.

"Hopefully Manu will make an impact. That's why he's there," Farrell said.

"He's had a lot to cover this week and is very comfortable within that. He's ready to go and is champing at the bit.

"We'll wait to see what time we bring him on in the game, we'll need to see how the game goes first and foremost.

"He's in tremendous nick and looks to be in as good as nick as I've ever seen him. He seems to be in a condition of a guy who wants to come back with a bang.

"We were very impressed with him last week within training. He fitted in very quickly and very comfortably and we couldn't ignore him in selection this week."


From Belfast Telegraph