Farrell still not 'settled'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Owen Farrell has insisted he has yet to feel totally relaxed in the England set-up even though he is on the brink of winning his 50th Test cap.
The Saracens star is now set to reach the landmark aged just 25 should he be selected for Sunday's Six Nations international against Italy at Twickenham.
Farrell, as first-choice goalkicker and inside centre, has been one of the mainstays of Grand Slam champions' current 16-match unbeaten run.
But his skills are not restricted to a good boot, with Farrell's well-timed pass setting up a match-winning try for Elliot Daly in a 21-16 win away to Wales earlier this month.
This weekend could see Farrell at flyhalf, with a new centre partnership of Ben Te'o and Daly outside him, but it is now hard to imagine England opting to go into a major match without him in whatever position.
Yet Farrell, the son of former dual code international Andy Farrell, dare not allow himself to feel comfortable lest it lead to a drop in his standards.
"I don't think you ever feel comfortable and I don't think that anyone here would tell you that they feel comfortable," Farrell said.
"And that's the way it should be, because there has to be a drive to constantly improve.
"I've not thought about winning the 50th cap too much. I need to get picked first and have a good week.
"The thing here is that it's all about getting better and I go on about it, but that's all I concentrate on."
Farrell, who made his debut against Scotland four years ago, was at first regarded initially as a player with a sound kicking game and strong defence.
But, as his part in Daly's try showed, there are certainly more aspects to his play now.
"I hope I have improved a lot and have come a long way since my debut. It was all right - there were quite a few new caps at the same time as me so there were a few of us in the same position," he said.
"Of course I was nervous. You probably build it up into something that it is not. It is another game, but you are going into the unknown."
Meanwhile the fiery temperament that sometimes leads Farrell into needless trouble on the field appears to have been curbed under current England coach Eddie Jones without any loss of effectiveness on Farrell's part.
"The more aware you are of things, the more control you can have," Farrell said.
Farrell made his debut for Saracens, the reigning English and European champions, in 2008 - the same year that England forwards coach Steve Borthwick joined the London club.
"I was fortunate that I saw him coming through as a youngster at Saracens," said Borthwick. "There are a lot of different moments that I can think of, but the one that struck me was when we played a Heineken (European) Cup games against Racing Metro.
"There were three different times in the game when we were down by 13 points... and he was always totally composed saying 'how are we going to win this game?'.
"He led us back into the game and was tremendous," the former England captain added. "This was from a 21-year-old. He's got a tremendous competitive spirit and brilliant composure under pressure."