Owen Farrell: France captain Antoine Dupont wary of England veteran’s impact off the bench in Six Nations clash
France captain Antoine Dupont is wary of Owen Farrell’s impact off the bench when the England fly-half emerges during their Six Nations clash on Saturday.
Farrell’s demotion to the replacements at Twickenham for this Round Four clash has been the main talking point of Steve Borthwick’s recent team selection.
24-year-old Marcus Smith has been preferred in the 10 jersey against Les Bleus and a strong showing could see him lock down the shirt on a long-term basis.
Farrell off the bench a threat
But Dupont has not written off veteran Farrell‘s influence on this weekend’s Test match, far from it, as he believes he could play a crucial role late in the game.
“Smith’s a player who enjoys the attacking game, he’s great at the one-on-ones,” the France scrum-half said about England‘s new starting fly-half on Saturday.
“He might not have as much control over the game as Farrell, but having Farrell’s experience on the bench is invaluable. It’s a massive asset.
“At this level, the final minutes of the game are very important so having Farrell come off the bench is great for them.
“A team’s strategy doesn’t change just because of one player. Both Smith and Farrell know how to fit within what is asked of the coach and the group.
“We know they’ll be leaning towards the kicking game, they enjoy putting their opponent under pressure.
“Smith knows how to do it and he might be more dangerous than Farrell. Farrell is better defensively. They have different profiles but can be complementary at the end of the game.”
France have struggled against England at Twickenham in the Six Nations in recent years, their last victory coming in 2005 when Dupont was eight years old.
However, their last two visits to English rugby’s HQ have been close affairs and Dupont stressed they must be at their best if they are to pick up the victory.
France must be at their best
“We play every game to win. We had two difficult ones here – one in the Nations Cup with a remodelled team and we could have won in extra time and the last one in the Six Nations which ended in a three-point difference,” he said.
“We’ll have to be at our best because we know it’s going to be difficult. The English will also want to win, but we don’t really think about past experiences.
“Looking at their squad, you can see the quality and experience they have – even if they aren’t at their best.
“They have players who can play in the biggest moments and this is a big moment.”
READ MORE: England v France: Six Nations preview as Les Bleus to edge Red Rose and keep title hopes alive
The article Owen Farrell: France captain Antoine Dupont wary of England veteran’s impact off the bench in Six Nations clash appeared first on Planetrugby.com.