Farrell Jnr will fight for his place like everyone else, insists Farrell Snr

England coach Andy tight-lipped on whether his son Owen will make his debut in the midfield against Scotland at Murrayfield

Favouritism is not a word widely associated with England's new-look squad ahead of the Six Nations Championship – they are likely to start four of their five games as underdogs, beginning with the tough Calcutta Cup match in Scotland tomorrow week – so it seems only right and proper that Owen Farrell, a hot tip for a debut in midfield at Murrayfield, should have to fight for his place in the side rather than be ushered into it by his father. "We'll discuss what's right for the team, what fits with our philosophy, and pick accordingly," said Andy Farrell, the red-rose assistant coach, yesterday.

In truth, Farrell Jnr needs no help from anyone in making a solid case for inclusion, having performed so impressively for Saracens over the last year. When Farrell Snr sits down with the caretaker head coach Stuart Lancaster and the forwards specialist Graham Rowntree to finalise selection, they will not spend a great deal of time talking through the midfield options, problematic though that area has been for the national team just recently. More thought will be given to the engine room, where the naturalised South African lock Mouritz Botha is challenging hard for a place, and the back-row combination, where there is a growing chance that the uncapped Northampton flanker Calum Clark will be involved alongside Tom Croft of Leicester and the Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw.

Understandably, Farrell the coach was reluctant to be drawn into a discussion of Farrell the player. He did, however, throw an interesting sidelight on their sporting relationship. "Owen is a player I happen to coach, so in that sense he's no different to everyone else," remarked the great rugby league player, whose bold move into union at a late stage of his career was badly undermined by injury. "He was in the Saracens academy when I started coaching, so it's always been this way.

"He's worked hard to be here – like the rest, he has a fierce determination to be the best – but I've made no demands on him as a father. I never took him out onto the field after homework and said: 'Right, we're doing this.' We'd go out only if he asked, which was quite often because sport has always been his interest. It's good when we both get home and I can be a father again, a father who talks rugby with his son. But when he's at the club, or here with England, we have a coach-player relationship. It's been like that from day one."

 

Apart from a slight disagreement over ping-pong – while the older man insisted he had the measure of his offspring at the table tennis table, his most regular games-room opponent begged to differ – both spun a similar yarn. "I forget that he's my dad when we're working together," said Farrell the younger. "Even before he was coaching and he came to watch me play, it wasn't like a normal dad telling me what I'd done right and wrong. He has massive experience of rugby, I respect what he says and it's standing me in good stead, but I'm my own player. While I try to learn from him, I'm not trying to live up to what he did."

According to Farrell père, this unfamiliar England squad is coming together nicely. "There are leaders, but no egos," he said. "This is a new squad, with new coaches, so we have to be realistic: we won't know how the side will perform until we get to Murrayfield. But Stuart has ideas, a vision, and I'm here to assist him, just as I assist Mark McCall at Saracens. We're building a culture and everyone has a voice. We want to give good players the chance to play: if you pigeonhole them, you stop them expressing themselves. When I was playing, there were occasions when I felt people weren't sharing their ideas – that there were cliques that made intelligent guys go quiet. They ended up sitting at the back of the room saying nothing for four or five games. We don't have that time. We need everyone fully involved, quickly."

If Robshaw remains the front-runner for the captaincy – "I'm honestly not thinking about it, but it's flattering to be talked about in this way and I'll be hugely honoured if it happens," he said – his exact place in a reshaped loose-forward unit remains unclear. He has played across the back row at Quins, but is probably best suited to the blind-side role, which happens to have been nailed down by Croft, whose line-out gifts are an elemental part of England's game. If the coaches feel Ben Morgan, the Llanelli-based newcomer, is simply too callow to perform the No 8 duties against the Scots, it may be that Robshaw will be pressed into service in the position strangest to him.

Meanwhile, the Sale flanker James Gaskell will lead the England Saxons against Ireland's second-string side in Exeter tomorrow evening. Jon Callard, the coach, has named a bold attacking midfield axis of Freddie Burns, Billy Twelvetrees and Matt Hopper, while including two World Cup backs dropped from the senior squad, Delon Armitage and Matt Banahan, at full-back and wing respectively.

In France, the controversial Stade Français prop David Attoub, banned for 70 weeks in 2010 for a gouging offence, has been included in a 23-man squad for the opening Six Nations game with Italy in Paris.

News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup