OWEN FARRELL has taken advice from England legend Will Carling this week but does not need any extra incentive or motivation as the four-year wait to face world champions New Zealand finally ends today.
Stellar fly-half Farrell is one of the few survivors from the last England team to beat the All Blacks in 2012 and is certain to be crucial to any hopes of causing a major upset at Twickenham.
Predictably, the revered tourists have been installed as overwhelming favourites to win a fixture their head coach Steve Hansen considers to be bigger than last year’s series against the British and Irish Lions.
Farrell, of course, was part of that and played in the side that won in Wellington, too, although admittedly, they drew the series.
However, he has been spending time recently with Carling, the former England captain who led the Red Rose to three Grand Slams between 1991 and 1995 and has been added to head coach Eddie Jones’s management team as a leadership mentor.
“Will is trying to feel his way into it,” explained Farrell, whose battle with Beauden Barrett in a full-strength All Blacks side, should be fascinating.
They are the best team in the world at the minute and have been for however many years. I can’t tell you the psyche of the other teams. We have to make sure we are confident and trust each other to come ready.England’s Owen Farrell
“He’s sat us down and we’ve talked through a few things that could help which we’ll use.
“A man of his experience who has won a lot – especially as a captain – it’s good to take bits from him. These people that are coming in, you chat about things, you bounce things off them, about what you’re thinking.
“It’s a very open and honest environment here, that you are able to have conversations which get you somewhere quickly.
“Because everyone is pretty open and honest and up front about what we are doing and what we are thinking.”
Although England are depleted by injuries, they have drawn confidence from last week’s impressive win over South Africa and Farrell, for one, refuses to be drawn into all the hype about a side who have been reigning world champions since 2011 and can beat some opponents before even taking to the field.
“I don’t think it’s about giving them too much respect,” he said.
“They are the best team in the world at the minute and have been for however many years.
“I can’t tell you the psyche of the other teams. We have to make sure we are confident and trust each other to come ready.
“You’ve got to do your basics well. That’s what they do. That’s it. Every Test is a physical battle and you’ve got to be up for that.”
To aid their pursuit of a stunning upset, survivors from the 2012 victory at Twickenham and the second Lions in Wellington last year have been canvassed for their views on where New Zealand are vulnerable.
“Thirty-three per cent of our players have beaten them and understand that like any team they’ve got weaknesses and that we’ve got an opportunity to get at them,” Jones said.
“The other 67 percent want to beat them, so we’re happy to go out there and get stuck in.”
Farrell, 27, added: “There’s no secrets; it’s always pretty obvious stuff but sometimes you don’t always remember it.
“It’s good to jog your memory and bring it back to the forefront of your mind.
“There’s no magic potion. It’s simple. We’re going to prepare like we have done every other game and get excited for it.”
Jones has urged England to act as movie directors rather than extras by producing a blockbuster this afternoon.
He believes opponents are often bewitched by New Zealand’s dazzling skills, reducing them to the role of spectators as their try-line is repeatedly breached before coming to their senses.
If England are to topple the world champions, Jones insists it is they who must write the script
“You can either make the movie or be in the movie, and we want to make the movie,” said the Australian, whose victory over South Africa as Japan coach at the 2015 World Cup is being made into a film called The Brighton Miracle.
“Sometimes when you play New Zealand you sit there and you watch and you think ‘they’re the best team in the world, we can’t compete against them’.
“You sit there, eat popcorn, have a can of Pepsi and watch the movie. Then you realise ‘we can be in this’, but by then it’s too late.
“So we want to make the movie, we want to be film directors. We don’t want to sit there and watch it.”