Fearless Owen Farrell is hungry to tackle brilliant All Blacks

England's raw outside-half insists he is ready to go head-to-head with returning New Zealand star Dan Carter

Owen Farrell, the inexperienced England outside-half shortlisted for the Player of the Year award due to be announced next week, will come face to face with an infinitely more celebrated contender at Twickenham: Daniel Carter of New Zealand, the world’s best back and just about the biggest name in the sport. This extreme test of a young man’s nerve and character was confirmed when Carter was declared fit and ready for the All Blacks’ final game of 2012, during which they have gone 13 games without defeat.

Add to this the seven victories New Zealand pieced together in winning the World Cup on their own soil in September and October last year, and England find themselves attempting to end one of the longest unbeaten records in rugby history. Does this leave Farrell feeling intimidated? Not obviously. "Rugby is a game I love, not a game that scares me," the Saracens midfielder said yesterday on being named in the red-rose starting line-up.

Carter missed his country's comfortable victory over Wales in Cardiff last weekend after suffering an injury to his lower leg - some called it a calf strain, others a tweaked Achilles tendon - during goal-kicking practice. News of his return for this game was warmly welcomed in the tourists' camp and for good reason: all but two of the playing party have been suffering from an outbreak of norovirus, commonly known as "winter vomiting bug", and have spent part of the week confined to their rooms.

It is 17 years since the All Blacks suffered a mass bout of food poisoning on the eve of the World Cup final against South Africa in Johannesburg - a match the Springboks narrowly won against most expectations, much to the delight of a certain Nelson Mandela, who presented his countrymen with the Webb Ellis Trophy. On that occasion, the New Zealanders suspected foul play. This time, they are more phlegmatic about things.

"It's been a difficult week because a lot of the guys have been sick with diarrhoea and vomiting," said Steve Hansen, the All Blacks coach, in naming a full-strength team for this climactic Test. "Getting the mix right in training has been tough, but we hope we've handled it smartly enough for people to have enough left in their tanks. Apparently, half the United Kingdom is suffering from it. I guess it's a present from the colonials."

As a general rule, it is the players facing the All Blacks who spend the 48 hours before the match struggling at both ends, as it were. But there was no hint of physical weakness - or, indeed, fragility of any other kind - about Farrell as he looked ahead to the most significant contest of his 10-month international career.

"There will be nerves, obviously: there always are before a big game," he said. "But the moment you let them get the better of you is the moment you get caught out. Carter was one of the people I first noticed when I started watching rugby union rather than rugby league: it was in 2005, he was playing against the British and Irish Lions and he looked like someone who was in complete control. He's a world-class player, clearly: a fantastic player, if not the best there is. But I feel I've been progressing each week in training and that I'm doing the right things. And as I say, there's no point putting your opponents up there and being scared of them."

Farrell, off the bench and into the starting line-up because of the toe injury affecting Toby Flood of Leicester, is the one change to the side that came up just short against the Springboks last weekend. As expected, the uncapped Freddie Burns of Gloucester will be the back-up No 10, while the Northampton lock Courtney Lawes is also among the substitutes, in place of the demoted Mouritz Botha of Saracens. Lawes has not been involved in the match-day squad since February.

New Zealand will have almost 800 caps' worth of experience in their run-on team, with the great flanker and captain Richie McCaw appearing in his 116th Test. The least experienced player, the left wing Julian Savea, will be winning his ninth cap.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before