Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Farrell fit and Morgan out for England's title decider
LONDON (Reuters) - Flyhalf Owen Farrell has been passed fit to return to England's lineup for Saturday's Six Nations title decider against Wales in Cardiff and is likely to start despite Toby Flood kicking six out of six penalties in Sunday's 18-11 victory over Italy.
The news was not so good for number eight Ben Morgan, who has lost his fitness battle after missing the last three games with an ankle injury.
Coach Stuart Lancaster said on Monday that Farrell was available for selection and that he was also hopeful that locks Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes would all recover from minor knocks for the Millennium Stadium decider (05:00 p.m. British time).
Farrell missed Sunday's game with a thigh strain and though Flood proved an able deputy, Farrell's ice-cool temperament makes him ideally suited for what is certain to be a high-octane encounter.
Wales will retain their title if they win by at least eight points, or seven points as long as England do not outscore them by three tries. A seven-point Welsh win combined with a two-try swing in England's favour would see the championship shared.
A narrower Welsh victory would give England their second title in three years while an England win would bring them their first grand slam since 2003.
"We've got plenty to work on. I don't have to remind the players that we need to take the opportunities," Lancaster told Sky Sports News on Monday having reviewed Sunday's nervy Twickenham win.
"We got to 15-3 and should have pulled away. We have to learn the lessons from that but our character at the end was positive."
While many of the Welsh side have experienced grand slam deciders and a World Cup semi-final, many of England's have not even played at the Millennium Stadium.
Lancaster, however, did not feel the difference would play a part.
"We've still got a pretty inexperienced group but they have confidence and character," he said.
"I'm confident in all our players. What we need to do is have a good plan and focus our attention on performance. If we get that right we know we are a very difficult team to beat.
"A lot of our players haven't played there before, so going to that type of environment is exactly the test we want.
"For a team to get that type of experience now and go up there and try to win a grand slam will be a special occasion."
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Mark Meadows)