Six Nations 2014: Cool head Owen Farrell hoping to lead England to championship glory
Farrell admits you can't let anything effect your game as a fly-half and admits he learnt to keep a cool head very early in his career
Friday 24 January 2014
Ask Andy Farrell what is the quality that sets Dan Carter apart and he offers an unflappable temperament that enables the New Zealand fly-half to swat aside mistakes.
Farrell, England's backs and defence coach, could just as easily be talking about his son Owen, the player who will be pulling the strings for England at the 2015 World Cup.
The Red Rose management accept the creative limitations that demand the selection of a second playmaker in the backline, but believe Farrell's composure under pressure outweighs this shortcoming.
The 22-year-old's steely resolve was evident in last autumn's QBE International against Australia, in which he scored 15 points as England prevailed 20-13.
Just as impressive as his points haul was his recovery from a challenging spell when he missed three successive penalties and showed hesitancy on the ball to spearhead the fightback.
It was exactly the temperament that England view as indispensable and the Saracens outside-half admits his mindset was shaped almost from the start.
"Keeping it together is something I learned pretty early on - when I started playing," he said.
"Why should you let it affect you? You've got to move on. There's too much to focus on in terms of your next job.
"If you're focusing on what has just happened then you're not going to have a grip on the game and that's what a fly-half's job is.
"Irrespective of how a kick went, you've got to back yourself and go again.
"You've got to have a clear head and think about what went wrong, but then you've got to put it behind you and move on. I just get on with it."
England will resist calls for the selection of the untested Freddie Burns and George Ford, more naturally gifted players than Farrell who are capable of producing moments of magic.
But in the cauldron of Test match rugby, there is only one fly-half that head coach Stuart Lancaster trusts.
"It's his temperament that carries him through," Lancaster said.
"Ian McGeechan talks about Test match animals and the ability to absorb the pressure of playing under the spotlight. He seems to be able to do that."
Farrell learned much during the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia last summer, an experience he views as "special".
As cover for Ireland's Jonathan Sexton, Farrell made only one appearance in the Test series, coming on as a substitute in the Sydney decider, but the tour left its mark.
"The key lesson I took from it was in preparation," Farrell said.
"Some good, good players would do a lot on the field and then stay around for hours after and do all sorts of extra practising - that's why they're good players.
"Then you see what players who have been at the top of their game for a long time do off the field and what they do to the players around them, showing them video and things like that.
"They make sure other people know their jobs so that they can do their jobs too.
"I do work hard, but it opened my eyes a bit as to how they drag other people along, watching sessions and making sure everyone knows their job."
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