Stuart Lancaster has indicated that Owen Farrell's "credit in the bank" will earn him the England number 10 jersey against New Zealand, ahead of the Aviva Premiership's form fly-half.
Gloucester's Freddie Burns has joined the squad in place of the injured Toby Flood and he is set to be included in England's 23-man match-day squad for the first time. Burns is the leading point-scorer in the Premiership with 143 from eight starts and he is in prime touch, having guided Gloucester to a 29-3 win against Sale on Saturday.
But Lancaster's faith in the 21-year-old Farrell was forged during the RBS 6 Nations, when he kicked important goals and played at fly-half in the victories over France in Paris and Ireland at Twickenham. "Owen has a lot of credit in the bank from what he achieved for us in the Six Nations," Lancaster said.
Flood reclaimed the shirt on England's summer tour of South Africa but he is now sidelined by a toe ligament injury, suffered in last weekend's 16-15 defeat to the Springboks.
Lancaster is an admirer of Farrell's "warrior spirit" and the England management are confident he has the potential to be more creative than Saracens' game-plan demands.
Lancaster added: "He had a long hard season and I don't think his form drifted off as dramatically as people made out.
"I know he has been a bit frustrated, he had a slow start to the season because of an injury.
"He has trained well. He looked comfortable and accomplished when he came on (against South Africa). I have no problem with Owen whatsover.
"I am disappointed for Toby but I'm excited to get Freddie in the squad, to have a player coming in who is playing well and confident.
"I am not sitting here worried about Freddie coming in. He is a quality player. I want more strength and depth in every position and he gives us that. It is a great opportunity for him."
- Sports & Recreation
- Stuart Lancaster
- Owen Farrell
- Freddie Burns
- Toby Flood
- Aviva Premiership