Owen Farrell is convinced England are on the road to becoming “a special team” after they retained the Calcutta Cup with a resounding 38-18 victory over Scotland.
And at the heart of it all, Farrell is showing all the signs of developing into a special player himself after he produced another commanding performance at fly-half. He kicked 18 points and quietened those who deride him as one-dimensional by playing flat and with an attacking ambition which resulted in England scoring four tries in their RBS Six Nations opener.
The 21-year-old may not have the natural elan of a Jonny Sexton, but his pass for Geoff Parling’s try was a thing of beauty and he possesses an iron will and ferocious competitive streak.
“I have always believed in his ability and temperament and his passing game, which is outstanding off both hands,” head coach Stuart Lancaster said. “He is developing into a good all-round player.”
The way Farrell linked with debutant inside centre Billy Twelvetrees prompted comparisons to the Jonny Wilkinson-Will Greenwood axis from England’s World Cup-winning team. And Farrell does not shy away from those comparisons. England are seeking to emulate that 2003 generation by building another team of world-beaters and Farrell is excited by the potential.
“We think we are getting better and better every time we step out onto the pitch and hopefully we will keep doing that,” Farrell said after receiving the man of the match award. “There’s no doubt if we do that then we can become a special team. I don’t think we are too bothered about expectation. What we are bothered about is what we create ourselves. We look inwards. We don’t want to set standards off other people, we want to set our own. It was important to back up our win against New Zealand. We didn’t want that to be a one off. We want that to be something that happens every week.
“But we are under no illusions, we know we can still get better.”
England will need to improve when they head to Dublin next week for a crunch clash with Ireland, having conceded two soft tries to Scotland. But they never looked in any real danger en route to their biggest Calcutta Cup victory in six years.
Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Joe Launchbury and Parling all ran powerfully and England looked to off-load from the tackle to keep a high tempo. “Our intent to play and our ability to retain possession and generate quick ball really stretched them,” Lancaster said. “There was also an underlying sense of frustration that we gave some soft tries and conceded penalties on restarts which we can’t do next week or we will get punished.”