‘Tight’ battle for England 10 jersey

Date published: September 2 2015

England coach Stuart Lancaster says Owen Farrell is "pushing hard" to leapfrog George Ford as first choice fly-half for the Rugby World Cup.

Ford is the incumbent pivot having steered the England attack during the Six Nations but Lancaster has hinted that a final call on who will start in the RWC opener against Fiji later this month has yet to be made.

Farrell missed the Six Nations due to injury and has been named on the bench for Saturday's warm-up against Ireland. But after Ford's below-par game against France in Paris, and with Farrell impressing in training, the race is still on for the 10 jersey.

"It’s tight. George is in position at the moment but Owen has been training exceptionally well," said Lancaster.

"He (Farrell) is back to his very best for me. His defence, his game management and his attacking game have been the best I've seen it. He is pushing hard.

"I don't need to say anything to George because he trains against Owen day in day out. We've a lot of faith in George because he’s been exceptional for us but this is another big game for him. Ireland have a very good kicking game and our kicking game needs to be spot on."

Ford knows he is under pressure but welcomes the competition.

"We are so competitive and we both want to start," said Ford.

"We both want to be as good players as we can be. Ultimately if you asked him the same question, it's for the good of the team.

"Everyone wants to start but the good thing about this squad is that there are no selfish players in this squad. The players not playing will give those playing the best opportunity to do well.

"Owen is constantly going out there and trying to be a better player. He's a great trainer and leader in the team. He goes out there and plays consistently well and I see that as a positive. I have to raise my game. That's a great position to be in. You always want someone pushing you."