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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum