England vs Samoa: Stuart Lancaster declares Owen Farrell is not 'undroppable' after naming fly-half at centre

Lancaster says he has dropped Farrell in the past and says his father Andy has no influence on that matter

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The Independent Online

England head coach Stuart Lancaster denies Owen Farrell is 'undroppable' after selecting the under-performing playmaker at inside centre for Saturday's QBE International against Samoa.

Farrell has survived an overhaul of the team that has seen five players - Danny Care, Kyle Eastmond, Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola and Dylan Hartley - axed following the 31-28 defeat by South Africa.

The 23-year-old has lost the fly-half duties to George Ford, but has been given the chance to stake a claim at 12 as Lancaster tests a partnership he has wanted to see in action for some time.

"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."

 

Lancaster has issued an emphatic retort to speculation that the presence of Owen's father Andy in England's coaching team results in his ongoing selection, despite a drop in form and concerns over his fitness.

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.

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Andy Farrell and his son Owen

"Mike has his view but I make the decision on it. Andy has a view, but to suggest that he in anyway 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."

PA

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