Stuart Lancaster expects axed Owen Farrell to bounce back

England head coach backs the Saracens outside-half to regain his form after being dropped for Australia clash on Saturday

By Gareth Llewellyn

Stuart Lancaster believes Saracens star Owen Farrell will bounce back after being dropped for Saturday’s QBE International against Australia.

The England head coach axed Farrell as he opted to go with Bath Rugby’s George Ford and Gloucester Rugby’s Billy Twelvetrees at inside centre against the Wallabies.

“Owen will play a different role off the bench this week – at 10 or 12,” Lancaster said.

“We know we can use him in both positions. He accepted it well.

“He’s a great professional and he’s very team focused. He accepted that George had played well and that he’s not on top form.

“He will contribute from the bench and then go away and work hard with Saracens. I’m sure he will be back.”

Ford, who made his first England start in last week’s win over Samoa impressed enough, while Farrell continued to look out of sorts despite playing inside Ford.

He will contribute from the bench and then go away and work hard with Saracens. I’m sure he will be back.

Stuart Lancaster

As well as the return of Twelvetrees, Lancaster made two changes in the forwards with Northampton Saints’ Tom Wood replacing James Haskell at blindside flanker and his club team-mate Dylan Hartley back in at hooker for Rob Webber.

Twelvetrees was England’s first-choice 12 during the Six Nations this year, but fell out of favour in the 3-0 series defeat in New Zealand.

The Gloucester captain looked more assured when he replaced Farrell against Samoa and Lancaster believes he deserves his chance.

“It’s good to be able to give Billy his first start of the series,” he said.

“He took on board the feedback we gave him when he first came into camp and he has worked hard both with us and at Gloucester and deserves his chance.”

England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Jonny May (Gloucester); George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dave Wilson (Bath), Dave Attwood (Bath), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Tom Wood (Northampton), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Ben Morgan (Gloucester).

Replacements: Rob Webber (Bath), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), George Kruis (Saracens), James Haskell (Wasps); Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Marland Yarde (Harlequins).

Australia: Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs); Henry Speight (ACT Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Matt Toomua (Brumbies), Rob Horne (Waratahs); Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Nick Phipps (Waratahs); James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Saia Fainga’a (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Sam Carter (Brumbies), Rob Simmons (Reds), Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels), Michael Hooper (Waratahs, captain), Ben McCalman (Western Force).

Replacements: TBC

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