Farrell not bothered with Ford selection row

England and Saracens flyhalf Owen Farrell

England flyhalf Owen Farrell has insisted that the controversy surrounding his selection at flyhalf for their crucial Rugby World Cup match against Wales does not bother him at all.

England looked to have settled with George Ford as their first choice flyhalf but England coach Stuart Lancaster has made the surprising move of starting Farrell ahead of Ford on Saturday.

Ford and Farrell have been friends since they were at school together as teenager and Ford has been rotated to the bench where Farrell was last week.

For most of the last year Ford has been the starting No 10 with Farrell coming on and finishing matches for England however the latter impressed off the bench against Fiji and this has won over coach Lancaster.

England’s backline will also feature rugby league convert Sam Burgess who starts in place of the injured Jonathan Joseph which has led to suggestions Lancaster has opted for a more conservative game plan against a Welsh midfield featuring powerful centre Jamie Roberts.

“What reaction?,” Owen Farrell told reporters at Twickenham when asked about the debate his selection at fly-half had generated.

“People can say what they want. It’s the people inside the camp that count to me. External factors don’t matter to us. The people who matter are inside the camp, not outside.

“All I want to do is my job. It doesn’t motivate me.

“We go into the game excited. It’s a massive challenge and we are looking forward to it. This is why you play rugby, to be involved in games like this.”

Farrell added he had no problem with adjusting his game to match conditions.

“Obviously we go in with a plan but you have to be open to what’s in front of you,” he said.

Mike Ford, George’s father and his coach at Bath, said his son had been “devastated and gutted” in being demoted to the bench, but Farrell said his relationship with his close friend was unaltered by Lancaster’s selection call.

“We have been exactly the same. Absolutely normal. We talk about everything anyway, it’s pretty open between us,” Farrell said as he prepared to face a Wales side who beat Uruguay 54-9 last week.

“It’s exactly the same as it was last week, as it was in the autumn when he got picked and I went on the bench. Exactly the same.

“We’ve played with each other since we went to school together at 13 or 14 and then played for England at Under-16, 18 and 20 levels. We are just open with each other.

“Rugby-wise we are two people who are obsessed with the game. We like to talk about it and we are probably a bit boring — all we talk about is rugby.”

Meanwhile England forwards coach Graham Rowntree indicated talk of a ‘first-choice’ team at a World Cup was misplaced, with the whole 31-man squad set for important roles.

“I can’t stress enough, it is a 31-man job,” said the former England prop.

“This week it is the selection we have picked that we think is appropriate to play Wales.”

Rowntree added: “You’ve got to choose the right tools for what’s in front of you. That’s what most teams do around the world — that’s selection.

“For this game, we’ve gone with those players. We could change it next week but we are entitled to do so. It’s incorrect to just put out the same team every week.

“You’ve got to play things appropriately in terms of selection and who you are going to play against.”

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