Owen Farrell insists his close friendship with George Ford remains intact despite their fierce rivalry for England’s fly-half duties.
Farrell has the chance to press his claim for a starting spot at the World Cup after being asked to pull the strings in tomorrow’s warm-up match against France at Twickenham.
It will be his first England appearance since last autumn, a series that saw him dropped from the starting XV against Australia following a dip in form and his luck deteriorated further when a knee injury forced him to miss the entire RBS Six Nations.
Ford has excelled in his absence and head coach Stuart Lancaster stated last week that the Bath playmaker remains first choice in the No 10 jersey.
Both will be involved in the World Cup as part of the matchday 23, but there is time for Farrell to prove he should direct England this autumn at the expense of his former school friend.
“Yes, it’s easy to keep our friendship because it’s all about the team. We want to do well individually and the players who are here will give everything to achieve that,” Farrell said.
“If someone is picked in the end and you aren’t when you’ve given everything, you can still hold your head up high.”
Danny Cipriani is also in contention for World Cup selection, although as third choice his only possible route to England 2015 is if Lancaster takes a utility player by sacrificing a specialist wing or full-back.
“There are three players here who are trying to do their best for the country and for the team.
“They want to improve themselves and push those around them for this team,” Farrell said.
“I’ve no doubt the other two see it as the same as me – as long as we push ourselves as much as we can we’ll be happy.”
Farrell will be playing outside an uncapped centre partnership of Sam Burgess and Henry Slade, with the rookie midfield pair competing with each other for a place among the final 31 to appear at the World Cup.
Burgess, whose role is to get England over the gainline at inside centre, has only been playing union since his cross-code move last October, but Farrell believes his big game experience in league will prove beneficial.
“Sam has been in camp for a long time now and has improved week-on-week,” Farrell said.
“I’m very excited to get out there and play alongside him and to play with a character like that. Hopefully he’ll get the opportunity to show what he can do.
“Sam has a lot of experience of playing in big games on the big stage. You’ll have seen the character that he has in the games he’s played in rugby league and for Bath. I hope he gets a chance to show it in England colours.”
England have been placed at a disadvantage for their opening World Cup warm-up match after France broke with established protocol by scheduling their team announcement for tomorrow’s Twickenham showdown on the eve of the game.
Confusion reigns over the jurisdiction for the first of two clashes between the rivals after World Rugby and Six Nations claimed the other body was responsible for the capped international.
Les Bleus have chosen to unveil their side at 4pm today afternoon, 28 hours before the 8pm scheduled kick-off at Twickenham.
Under World Rugby regulations, the team and bench must be named 72 hours before a match starts unless there are tournament or tour terms in place, which usually set 48 hours as the deadline.
While England announced their side on Monday afternoon, France are trimming their 25-man squad to 23 and selecting a starting XV four days later.
World Rugby insist the game falls under the auspices of the Six Nations, but the tournament organisers are understood to be co-ordinating the disciplinary process and in-competition anti-doping programme only, leaving the rules governing the team announcement shrouded in doubt.
England are understood to be baffled by France’s ability to delay naming their team until so close to kick-off in what is a clear break with protocol. Unless an agreement has been signed between the two unions then the match reverts to the 72-hour deadline established by World Rugby, which France will have missed by nearly two days.
The French Rugby Federation may now face sanctions in the form of a fine.
The second of the two fixtures is staged in Paris on Saturday week.