British & Irish Lions 2013: Farrell relishing battle with Sexton

British & Irish Lions 2013: England's Owen Farrell says he is enjoying the battle for the No10 shirt with Jonny Sexton

owen farrell
Owen Farrell is on the replacements bench for the second Test Photo: The Sport Review

Owen Farrell admits he is relishing the battle with Jonny Sexton for the British & Irish Lions No10 jersey after excelling in the victory over Melbourne Rebels.

Farrell, who featured in four of England’s five Six Nations matches this year, would have been looking to push his case after failing to make it off the bench in last weekend’s nail-biting opening Test win over Australia.

His place went instead to Sexton with Farrell one of only two replacements, alongside winger Sean Maitland, who did not step onto the pitch in Brisbane.

But after being handed a starting birth for the clash in Melbourne, the Saracens man excelled in attack, converting the first three Lions tries before being replaced by Stuart Hogg in the 55th minute of the 35-0 win.

Taking his success rate to 18 kicks from 19 on the tour, the 21-year-old was also strong in distribution, standing flat on the gain-line and distributing with confidence – something he revealed was part of the pre-match plan.

While Farrell will be on the bench once again for the second Test, the England fly-half is looking to continue his recent improvement.

“I have been asked to play a bit wider and a bit flatter and take it to the line a bit more which I’m comfortable with and I want to do that,” Farrell said. “I have been enjoying it.

“We just had to make sure that we kept going forward, whether it’s through the middle or out wide.

“We felt like they bit in a bit on the outside so we could go wide at times. But at the right times as well we wanted to keep going through the middle of them and to be fair to us, we kept getting quick ball off the back of it.

“The forwards were working hard again, backing up off the scrums and line-outs after going forward in the first place.”

Saturday’s second test at the Etihad Stadium brings with it a chance to seal a series win, and after his performance against the Rebels, Farrell was happy to be putting pressure on Sexton.

“It’s a healthy battle,” he said. “Jonny is an outstanding player and I am learning a lot off him.

“If it keeps going the same like this I will be extremely happy by the end of this tour.”

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