Six Nations: England No 10 Owen Farrell is in a league of his own

England's new No 10 has shown he is learning fast as he heads to Dublin this weekend for a Lions showdown with Ireland's Jonathan Sexton

Calcutta Cup celebrations and sponsor engagements behind them, the England players reconvened yesterday to plot a route past the rampant Irish in Dublin. Ireland's sacking of Wales in the Millennium Stadium and the fall of France in Rome has intensified the atmosphere around a fixture that needs little amplification. At the heart of the English resurgence stands Owen Farrell who, a year on from his international debut, is emerging as the fly-half of coach Stuart Lancaster's dreams.

Farrell combines the minimalism and accuracy of Jonny Wilkinson without any of the introspection that acted like a brake on the latter's creative impulses. A youth spent unconsciously absorbing the rituals and demands of being a great rugby player that attached to his father, Andy, have left Farrell at ease in the spotlight. He cares not a fig about what we think about him. Only the opinions of significant others are considered, which reinforces the iron conviction he has about his own game.

"I don't pay much attention to what is written about me. I try to focus on the opinions that matter most to me. You want the reliable ones. Dad does not have much input when we are in camp. I'm just the same as everybody else in that situation. I get to go over stuff with him at home because he is always there. There is quite a bit of rugby talk. We both enjoy it. It is what we both do every day so there is not much else we talk about. Sometimes my mum gets a bit fed up, but she is used to it now."

There is something endearing about the retention of his Lancastrian dialect, softened only by the inclusion of the definite article, an addition for which he cops plenty of stick in Wigan. "My friends [in the North] take the mickey over my accent. When I moved south at first you find yourself trying to pronounce things properly without really knowing why. But I'm still very much a Wiganer, and at home we've all got Wigan accents."

Until the family moved south when Farrell was 14, young Owen was destined for the 13-man code. Union owes a debt of gratitude for his league education and the instinct to move the ball quickly inculcated in his formative rugby years at Wigan St Pats. "My uncle still plays for Wigan. I watch every game on TV and try to get back and see them whenever I get the chance. I enjoy rugby league. It is engrained in me since birth. I played it till I was 14. There are a lot of transferable skills but they are in many ways two different games."

This is not the time to dive into that old parlour game. It is sufficient to recognise the remarkable progress Farrell has made in Lancaster's first year in charge. There were 18 points from his boot against Scotland and a pass to Geoff Parling that had the tape measures out at Twickenham. Sunday's encounter thrusts him into combat against the favourite for the Lions' No 10 shirt, Jonathan Sexton, an obvious talking point for rugby's chattering classes, but for him nothing more than the next stop on the line.

"From a personal point of view I try to prepare as best I can for what's coming at the weekend. You don't want to be creating things or thinking too much about things you can't control. Different teams present different threats. You have to prepare for each game as it comes. We will focus on ourselves as a team against Ireland. You obviously have to look at them and see what their threats are but you want to put your game on the field. That is what we will be looking to do. I'm looking forward to my debut in Dublin. I think it is going to be exciting."

It is Farrell's capacity to simplify the challenge, to break it down into easily digestible chunks that, at 21, is so impressive. Credit is also due to Lancaster for the collegiate atmosphere he has fostered in his 12 months at the helm. "Everything was being put in place last year, the foundations and culture. That happened quickly. We had a good Six Nations, but meeting up in Leeds again last week it really feels like we hit the ground running. Everybody knew their jobs inside out and we can all focus on the details.

"I don't know that I feel more established now. Everybody was made to feel equal last year. That helped the team grow so quickly. No one felt like they didn't have a voice, or couldn't speak up. That is a credit to Stuart and the coaches. Everybody felt comfortable in that environment. I think you learn from every match. Game management is massive. That is something you pick up as you go along, but you do learn a lot, particularly from the big games."

Owen Farrell is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, official partner of the RFU. Marriott Hotels & Resorts is giving away a two-night break in Europe every time England score a try in the RBS 6 Nations. Go to Facebook.com/MarriottHotelsUK for more

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone