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Stuart Lancaster: Saracens' Owen Farrell's dad does not pick England team

By Duncan Bech

Stuart Lancaster has denied that paternal favouritism has any influence over Owen Farrell's ongoing selection after the Saracens playmaker survived the cull completed by England's head coach. Farrell under-performed in the defeats against New Zealand and South Africa but is not among the five changes made for Saturday's clash with Samoa at Twickenham.

The 23-year-old, who has started just two matches for Saracens this season because of a thigh injury, has been moved to inside centre with George Ford making his first Test start at fly-half.

Lancaster insists he is willing to drop Farrell if he considers it the correct decision and issued an emphatic retort to speculation that the presence of Owen's father Andy in England's coaching team sways his thinking.

"If there's a perception that I've never dropped Owen Farrell, then that's wrong," Lancaster said.

"He was dropped in South Africa when we were on tour and he didn't play in any of the autumn internationals in 2012 in the lead up to that New Zealand game."

When questioned about the role Andy Farrell has in the selection, Lancaster replied: "Can I put that one to bed, please?

"I can categorically say that there is no influence of Andy in the selection of Owen whatsoever. I make the decision. I consult (attacking skills coach) Mike Catt more than Andy when it comes to Owen.

"Mike has his view but I make the decision on it.

"Andy has a view, but to suggest that he in any way would influence selection is completely wrong.

"In terms of questioning the integrity of them as a father and son unit in their family, I think that would be completely wrong.

"If you ask the players, they will say it is a completely coach-player relationship.

"I've seen Mike Ford and George Ford operate in the same relationship.

"I've got a son who's 13, I coach him and if you ask anyone you are probably harder on your own children."

England have made a total of six changes, one positional, to the side defeated 31-28 by South Africa last Saturday.

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