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.

News
people
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
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

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities