Six Nations: Farrells divided over Six Nations decider

On his shoulders: Owen Farrell has shouldered a greater responsibility under Eddie Jones as England seek a second successive Six Nations grand slam. (Picture: Paul Harding/PA)
On his shoulders: Owen Farrell has shouldered a greater responsibility under Eddie Jones as England seek a second successive Six Nations grand slam. (Picture: Paul Harding/PA)
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Owen Farrell expects his mother Colleen to be cheering for a try-less England win against Ireland when he comes up against his father Andy for the first time.

Only the Irish can prevent head coach Eddie Jones’s men from becoming the first team of the Six Nations era to complete successive Grand Slams, one week after the title was retained with a round to spare.

The climax to the Championship places father and son on opposing teams for the first time, Owen as England’s playmaking inside centre and Andy as defence coach of Ireland – a role he also performed at Twickenham until his departure after the 2015 World Cup.

It confronts Colleen with a dilemma best solved by the smallest of Red Rose victories at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

“We don’t really joke about it. It’s not like he’s playing the game, there’s only one of us playing in it and he’s obviously got a coaching role,” said Owen.

“I think the only person it will affect is my mum, not us. She just wants everyone to do well. She wants 3-0 England, I think.”

Farrell has emerged as the heartbeat of Jones’s England – his goalkicking, defence and generalship now matched by a growing artistry with the ball in hand.

How the 25-year-old performs in Dublin will be instrumental to aspirations of seizing a victory that would eclipse New Zealand’s world record of 18 successive Test wins.

Farrell combined with George Ford to bewitch Scotland in last Saturday’s title-clinching seven-try rout and his father – a former Great Britain rugby league captain – now faces the task of subduing England’s twin conductors.

When asked if Andy will have devised a defensive plan to negate his own threat, the younger Farrell replied: “I guess we’ll see. Ireland are a good team so I’m sure it’ll be a tough challenge.

“We don’t speak to each other every day. We speak to each other what I would say is the normal amount, as any family would.

“We chat a bit of rugby, but we also have general chat as families would.”

Jones, who is grooming Farrell as the long-term successor to Dylan Hartley as England captain, is unconcerned by the father-son relationship that spans rival camps.

“They’ve probably been talking about rugby since Owen was big enough to sit at the table,” said Jones.

“I think they’re both mature enough to get on with it this week. Neither needs any more motivation to do well. They’re Farrells – I think that sums it up.”

Full-back Mike Brown is among a number of England players to have played alongside the son and under the father.

“They’re very similar. They both bring a lot of energy,” said Brown.

“Owen backs up words with actions. Being a rugby league fan I grew up watching his dad on TV playing for Wigan.

“Owen is probably used to this. He’s probably not taken a second thought about coming up against his dad because he’s so focused on his job in the team.

“Owen is a world-class player. The way he’s grown has been amazing. Most of the time I don’t even look when he’s kicking because I just expect it to go over. He’s that good.

“He’s obviously massively involved in bringing energy to the team. He’s physical and leads by example with his words.”

Elliot Daly remains in contention for the final hurdle of England’s Grand Slam defence after being retained in a 25-man squad for Saturday’s clash with Ireland.

Daly was the victim of a tip tackle by hooker Fraser Brown in the 61-21 victory over Scotland at Twickenham and has so far passed the return to play protocols for concussion.

The Wasps wing has two more stages to negotiate – tomorrow’s full contact practice is the final element – and England hope he will be given the all clear for the match in Dublin.

The champions are likely to name an unchanged matchday 23 if Daly proves his fitness.

The biggest selection call facing Jones is at No 8 where Billy Vunipola could be recalled in place of Nathan Hughes.

Vunipola made a successful international comeback against Scotland after three months out with a knee injury, crossing for a try as a second-half replacement, but it was also Hughes’s strongest performance of the Six Nations.

Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor has been retained with the squad and is destined to perform travelling reserve duties alongside wing Jonny May.

England 25-man squad: Forwards – D Cole (Leicester), J George (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Taylor (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton).

Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), E Daly (Wasps), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), J May (Gloucester), J Nowell (Exeter), B Te’o (Worcester), A Watson (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester).