January 31, 2020 / 10:11 PM / 22 days ago

Rugby: England ready for new start against France - Farrell

PARIS (Reuters) - The World Cup ended in abrupt fashion for England, but captain Owen Farrell is now only looking forward as his team take on a rejuvenated, always dangerous, French side in the Six Nations on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Launch - Tobacco Dock, London, Britain - January 22, 2020 England's Owen Farrell during a press conference Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

England entered last year’s World Cup final as favourites after an impressive victory against New Zealand in the semi-finals, but were overwhelmed by South Africa in the showpiece event.

They have, however, regained their composure and are ready to gun for a third Six Nations title in five years.

“It’s not like we’ve been sat at home on the couch since we’ve got home,” England captain Farrell told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve had quite a lot to focus on as players. In an England context, it’s good to get back together, it’s exciting to see now where we can take this. We’ve had a chat when we first got together, each individual’s thoughts on the World Cup.

“We love being here, in this environment. It’s an exciting tournament ahead of us.”

Farrell, who insisted the World Cup ‘is done’, said that England were excited to take to the field again, despite the absence of Billy and Mako Vunipola.

“It’s not about the World Cup now, it’s about where this team’s going, that’s the exciting bit, not the putting that (World Cup failure) right, the exciting bit is what’s in front of us,” the centre explained.

“That starts on Sunday, a big start, everybody’s pouring all their efforts into preparing the best they can.”

ELECTRIC

Eddie Jones’s team will miss the injured number eight Billy Vunipola and his brother, loosehead prop Mako, but Farrell is convinced England have enough strength in depth to cope.

“It’s not reliant on anybody. We just don’t want to play one way. We have the ability to play a number of ways. So that fits well with getting people in and using their strengths,” he said.

The forwards’ battle is likely to be tense at the Stade de France, but Farrell seemed more concerned by the French backline.

“(Scrumhalf Antoine) Dupont is electric, makes stuff happen, sees things quickly and just goes to it. He doesn’t second guess himself, he’s very decisive,” said Farrell.

“(Flyhalf Romain) Ntamack is calmer, laid back, doesn’t get flustered by anything, but can make things happen, has the ability to beat people. They are the two key players in what they’re going to do in attack.”

France were thrashed 44-8 at Twickenham last year and have been disappointing in recent years.

However, Farrell insisted they would always be a threat, even if this year they will turn up with a squad featuring only one player with more than 50 caps.

“They beat us here two years ago in Paris and they were very close to being in a World Cup semi-final. They’ve got some outstanding players and it seems like a new start for them,” he said.

“It’s a big build up and something everyone’s going to get excited about in France with the World Cup being here next time around. As with all French teams, they have the ability to unlock a game at any time, no matter where you are on the field, no matter the time on the clock.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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