Six Nations: Owen Farrell unfazed by cauldron as he makes a nerveless debut

ENGLAND never really saw the best of Andy Farrell after he converted to rugby union late in his career, but his 20-year-old son Owen, who made a nerveless debut in Saturday’s 13-6 win over Scotland, is likely be a fixture for some time.

Farrell senior, now assistant to interim coach Stuart Lancaster, won just about everything in the game when he played rugby league for Wigan and Britain, and though he featured in the 2007 union World Cup final during his brief stint as a Test union player, his best years were behind him.

Owen Farrell opted for the 15-man code as a schoolboy and looked completely at home in the cauldron of a Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield despite his tender years and relatively little senior experience.

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He slotted home a tough, wide conversion of Charlie Hodgson’s try early in the second half, then, after leaving a 50-metre penalty attempt short after 70 minutes, immediately made up for it by landing a 35-metre shot that crucially stretched England’s lead to seven points.

Defensively, alongside fellow Saracens debutant centre Brad Barritt, he did not put a foot wrong, and though there was little opportunity for him to show the vision and deft hands that England have been seeking, he certainly has time on his side.

“He’s got a good temperament, hasn’t he?” said Lancaster after handing out seven new caps. “That ability to step up and perform on the big stage...he was nervous before the game and nerveless in it.”

Scrumhalf Ben Youngs, a relative veteran at 22 with 18 caps, was similarly impressed. “Awesome, he looked as if he’d been playing for England all his life. I reckon he’ll be playing for his country for a very long time.”

Farrell himself was reluctant to bask in the limelight and, just as he had throughout the build-up to the match, took everything in his stride.

“I’m a pretty confident guy so that last kick was the result of all the practice I put in,” he said. “You have to focus on the kick and not all the peripherals. Hopefully, these will be the first of many points I score for England.

“That’s just the start for us. We came out here and worked unbelievably hard for each other. That’s what we’ve worked on the last couple of weeks – getting together and bonding as a team.

“We really want to fight for each other and we showed that out there today and we gelled immediately. Not everything was good, but we can get better and better as the weeks go on.”

While Lancaster was rightly proud of his new charges’ work ethic and defensive vigour, it was far from a complete performance.

Other than Hodgson’s chargedown try and one opportunity for winger David Strettle, England created precious little in the way of attacking threat. The scrum and lineout looked creaky and the pack struggled to contain the bigger, more experienced Scots when they got the rolling maul going. There were some defensive blips too, and if Scotland had shown a little more poise on the three or four occasions they broke the line, it could well have been Andy Robinson celebrating.