Bagshot, England: Owen Farrell sets high standards for himself and those around him and though he said there were the usual “work-ons” from last week’s fantastic victory over Ireland, the England captain — almost — admitted to having enjoyed it.
Farrell stressed that England’s players and coaches wasted little time in turning their attention to Sunday’s second Six Nations match against France at Twickenham, but that part of the process was enjoying what had clicked in Dublin.
You review a game. You don’t brush over anything you did well and look at anything you could improve. There’s stuff to get better at, it’s not hard to find. There will be a lot that we want to take to another level. What we know is our feet firmly on the ground. It was never going to be a case of thinking too much of ourselves.
“We’ve got to understand what we did well and why we did it well, that’s part of being able to get better and to grow for this week,” the fly-half told reporters on Friday.
“You review a game. You don’t brush over anything you did well and look at anything you could improve. There’s stuff to get better at, it’s not hard to find. There will be a lot that we want to take to another level.
“What we know is our feet firmly on the ground. It was never going to be a case of thinking too much of ourselves.”
To most viewers there was little to fault in England’s 32-20 bonus-point victory at the home of the defending Grand Slam champions. But Farrell, overcoming his usual disdain for what he considers pointless questions, tried his hardest to dig below the obvious.
“It’s hard to pick one thing because all important,” he said. “It’s the engagement of being in it enough to cope with anything. You can be doing one thing well and something completely different is thrown at you and the big thing for us is not to be shocked by it, but to be ready.”
One thing that has undoubtedly gone well for England in recent games is the start and they have scored tries inside the first three minutes in their last four matches.
“The start of the game is a bit of a tone-setter for what’s to come but that’s not always the case,” Farrell said.
“There were a lot of times last year when we started really well and were unable to keep it up or not been able to withstand the pressure that got put back on us, but the most pleasing thing from the last few games is that we’ve kept engaged and stayed in the fight throughout the game.”
With co-captain and hooker Dylan Hartley out of the picture through injury and likely to remain so after impressive displays by Jamie George, Farrell has emerged as the main man but he says others are stepping in to fill the “leadership void” that coach Eddie Jones has consistently bemoaned.
“The leadership group is brilliant,” said Farrell. “A lot of players want to be involved, want to feel it’s theirs. If you just sit there being told all week, you can agree as much as you want, but if you don’t own it yourself, it’s probably not as exciting come the weekend.”
Having unsettled the well-drilled Irish last week, Farrell says this week’s preparation has changed tack to deal with the far-less predictable French, who blew a 16-0 halftime lead to lose at home to Wales a week ago.
“We have got to make sure in any sort of unstructured or offload or turnover or kick return or ball going on the floor, we are ready all together, not just individually,” he said. “What we’ve got to make sure is that we build up to get it emotionally right on Sunday and, so far, it’s felt like we have been.”