Owen Farrell unfazed as father Andy prepares Ireland to end England's Grand Slam hopes

Dad Andy, now Ireland's defence coach, faces his son for the first time on Saturday

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It’s not often that while preparing for one of the biggest games of your career you find your father plotting against you.

It sounds like a Game of Thrones-style betrayal usually saved for the silver screen but that’s the situation Owen Farrell finds himself in on Saturday as dad, Andy, prepares Ireland’s defence to stop England completing back-to-back Grand Slams.

England travel to Dublin having already wrapped up the Six Nations title following their demolition of Scotland last weekend while Ireland – the only team other than the Scots who could still stop them – we soundly beaten by a galvanised Wales the night before.

Former dual-code international Andy has been in his son’s corner more than most fathers throughout their child’s career, having served as England’s defence coach under Stuart Lancaster and fulfilled the same role for Warren Gatland’s successful 2013 Lions tour.

He will fill the same job for this year’s tour of New Zealand, where he will likely be back on Owen’s side again, but for now the pair find themselves in an unusual position – not that it has fazed the England centre.

“I wouldn’t say I’m coming up against him – I don’t think he’s playing is he? I don’t think that’ll come into it,” the younger Farrell said.

“It’s not like he’s playing the game, there’s only one of us playing in it and he’s obviously got a coaching role. I think the only person it will affect is my mum, not us. She just wants everyone to do well.”

So is she gunning for a draw? “3-0 England, I think,” joked Farrell.

After being sacked from England following the resignation of Lancaster and the subsequent appointment of Eddie Jones, Farrell senior joined Ireland as defence coach following the completion of last year’s Six Nations.

But their relationship in the build-up to Saturday’s curtain closer isn’t something the Saracens man is concentrating on and rejected suggestions either man is giving the other insight.

“These are things that haven’t even entered my head,” he insisted. “We speak to each other what I would say is the normal amount. I don’t really know, it’s just normal, as any family would.

“We chat a bit of rugby. I don’t know if you’re trying to say I’ve given him insight or he’s given me insight but we have general chat as families would.”

But will dad have a tougher defence prepare for him? “I guess we’ll see. Ireland are a good team so I’m sure it’ll be a tough challenge.”

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Farrell's partnership with Ford has been one of the key reasons for England's success (Getty)

Farrell faced a race against time to be fit for the win over Scotland after picking up a knock to his a thigh in training which prevented any kicking practice prior to the day of the game.

The 25-year-old was restricted to visualising techniques but was sublime in linking up with fly-half George Ford to release Jonathan Joseph, with the pair having a hand in all three of his tries.

Ford spoke after the game of how much easier it makes his job by having another playmaker in the side as it gives England another set of eyes, and Farrell admitted the pair are always in conversation about tactics.

“We talk all the time,” he said. “Just little bits.

“If something pops into our heads we make sure we get it out there and make sure we’re both on the same page. I can’t really put a time limit on it for you, it’s just normal chatting really.

“To score three first-half tries [against Scotland] – that doesn’t normally happen too much so I guess the execution was good. We were happy with that. But there’s still a fair bit to learn from this game and stuff for us to get better at.”

England announced their 25-man squad on Tuesday evening ahead of the game against Ireland, with Elliot Daly retained despite still feeling the effects of the tip tackle by Scotland hooker Fraser Brown.

Daly has so far passed all the concussion return to play protocols but must still get through two more stages, including Thursday’s full contact training session.

England 25-man squad:

Forwards - D Cole (Leicester Tigers), J George (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Taylor (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs - M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath Rugby), J Joseph (Bath Rugby), J May (Gloucester Rugby), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), B Te'o (Worcester Warriors), A Watson (Bath Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

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