DAN BIGGAR: The George Ford and Owen Farrell show ain’t broke, don’t fix it… their 10-12 combination is still the way to go for England, while Manu Tuilagi can add a bit of brute force
- Owen Farrell’s drive, determination and composure rubbed off on Saracens
- He was a fraction better than George Ford in the Premiership final victory
- England should resist calls for Farrell to play fly-half after superb display
Everyone will be crying out for Owen Farrell to play fly-half for England after that performance but I think a 10-12 combination with George Ford is the way they will go.
Whenever you play 10, your performance generally depends how the rest of your team go. Saracens were by far the better team, with more possession, more phases and more fluidity in attack. Ford had a couple of nice touches but he was never able to put his shape on the game.
I’ve been on two Lions tours with Farrell. He takes a bit of flak but his big-match temperament is incredible. Come finals day, that’s almost more important than skill.
The drive, the determination to win, the composure. The way he expresses himself rubs off on other people and that was the case on Saturday. He’s an incredibly intense guy.
On the 2017 tour it was difficult to get to know him away from the field because he didn’t really switch off. It was rugby rugby rugby.
Owen Farrell was a fraction better than George Ford in Saturday’s Premiership final
In 2021 he seemed a lot more relaxed, talking about his kids, and I think that’s reflected on the field. When he makes a mistake on the pitch now, it doesn’t seem like the end of the world. He’s let a bit of pressure off his shoulders.
In big games you want your basics down well, which Farrell did, with a sprinkling of gold dust. He was a fraction better than Ford but he was surrounded by a more cohesive team. Steve Borthwick will want his best players on the park and Ford and Farrell are two of the best in England. It’s a no brainer, while someone like Manu Tuilagi can add a bit of brute force at 13.
That’s tough on Marcus because it’s not been Harlequins’ year, but his time will come. Here’s how I analysed their performances at Twickenham:
Ford’s big strength is how intricate he is at the line, forcing defenders to jump out and exploiting the little holes. He played some nice balls to Tuilagi but didn’t get many opportunities. He mixed things up, with inside balls at the line, early balls to his forwards to allow them to dominate collisions and an around-the-back pass.
Farrell 8 Ford 7
People talk about kicking percentages but I hate that statistic because it doesn’t tell the story. Ford missed two and Farrell missed one, but Farrell had easier kicks. I don’t think it has much impact either way.
Farrell 7 Ford 7
Farrell will never be a crash-ball centre but at times he looked like a traditional 12. He looked more threatening at the line and the flow of the game allowed him to have a crack, with a show and an offload. He looked hungry to run it. Ford was dealing with static ball off one or two phases. He went once and got held.
Farrell 7 Ford 5
Not many players can rip the ball off Tuilagi like Farrell did. He’s combative and he’s a winner. Saracens were able to impose themselves more. Ford is never going to be the biggest tackler but he is a good defender. He had a couple of good double shots but Farrell put himself about more.
Farrell: 7 Ford 6
Ford had a couple of nice touches but he was never able to put his shape on the game
KICKING FROM HAND
Both know how to work their way round the pitch. They are pragmatic and Borthwick likes that.
Farrell put in a really clever 50-22, spotting the space. Nothing spectacular but he was really accurate. There was a rushed crossfield from Ford that put his side under pressure but he had a really good touch-finder for the first try.
Farrell 8 Ford 6
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