England tour of New Zealand: Owen Farrell injury leaves door open for Freddie Burns to return at fly-half

Leicester's new signing will play at No 10 in the final Test against the All Blacks

Owen Farrell, the Saracens outside-half, has been ruled out of this weekend’s final Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton after failing to recover from the knee-ligament strain he suffered in the second Test in Dunedin – an unwelcome turn of events in the short term that could yet prove of benefit to England in the long run.

Freddie Burns will replace Farrell for the third Test on Saturday. Burns, who left Gloucester at the end of a the season to join Leicester next term, was recalled by the England coach Stuart Lancaster for the opening match of this series in Auckland on the grounds that the three No 10s ahead of him in the pecking order – Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler – were either injured or otherwise engaged. Happily for Burns, he made the most of his opportunity, both as a goal-kicker and as a creative force in midfield.

If he performs as well on Saturday as he did at Eden Park, a place in the red-rose squad for next year’s home World Cup will be much more of a legitimate ambition than just a few short weeks ago.

Both England’s first-choice centres, Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, trained today and have a chance of shaking off ankle problems in time for the contest in Hamilton. But Danny Care remains a doubt: the scrum-half is still nursing the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Auckland Test and hampered his work in Dunedin.

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