Lancaster maintains his focus
Stuart Lancaster insists England's preparations for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France - "one of the biggest challenges in international rugby" - have not been affected by speculation over the next head coach.
South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White dropped out of contention just 24 hours after confirming he was interested in being Martin Johnson's full-time replacement. White's decision would appear to leave the Rugby Football Union with a straight choice between Lancaster, who is filling the role on an interim basis, and Nick Mallett.
After a week of rumour, Lancaster brought the focus back onto the rugby when he named an unchanged starting line-up for the Paris showdown, and he said: "It's never been a distraction. I've known from the outset that I was the interim coach and from the outset that there was going to be a process.
He continued: "And I knew from the outset that people would apply and there would be speculation. There are things as a coach you can control and there are things you can't control. And I prefer to concentrate on the things I can control and I am trying to give the team the best chance of winning.
"It's not about me. It's about the team and giving England the best chance of winning on Sunday. I can assure you that's what I am focused on. Playing France is a benchmark. It's one of the biggest challenges in international rugby. It's a massive challenge but one we are really excited about."
Lancaster's decision to field the same starting line-up that lost 19-12 to Wales means Farrell is retained at fly-half, despite the return to fitness of Charlie Hodgson. Hodgson, who started at fly-half with Farrell at inside centre in England's wins against Scotland and Italy, returns from a finger injury to replace Toby Flood on the bench.
Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer also returns to the 22-man squad with a seat on the bench after Courtney Lawes was ruled out of the tournament with a shin injury.
Lancaster said: "We were really disappointed to lose to Wales but we took a lot out of the performance and felt it was right to pick the same starting team to go to Paris."
England's starting line-up features only five of the side that started the 19-12 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in October - Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Dan Cole and Tom Croft.
France, who went on to reach the World Cup final, have not lost at home in 10 Six Nations games following their 17-17 draw with Ireland two weekends ago. Les Bleus start with former Leicester and Julen Dupuy at scrum-half and Lionel Beauxis at fly-half, their only changes from the Ireland game.