Saracens star Farrell in line to start vital Rugby World Cup showdown with Wales

Saracens' Owen Farrell in action for England

Saracens' Owen Farrell in action for England - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Saracens’ Owen Farrell is set to be handed a starting spot for England’s crucial World Cup clash against Wales on Saturday night.

With Stuart Lancaster’s hosts, Warren Gatland’s Wales and Australia all fighting for the two spots in Pool A which will take them through to the knockout stages, this weekend’s showdown at Twickenham is pivotal.

The Red Rose were flattered by their 35-11 victory over Fiji on the opening night of the tournament last Friday, but fly-half Farrell impressed when he replaced George Ford off the bench.

Lancaster is expected to make changes to his starting line-up against Wales – which will be announced tomorrow (Thursday) – and it is thought Farrell will start instead of Ford.

Farrell said: “These are the games that you love playing in – the physical challenges, and you know I am sure that we will build it up nicely this week and make sure that we are ready for it.

“Wales are obviously a team that like to play rugby in your half and put as many people as possible in the front line and get off the line and put pressure on you. So hopefully we will do the right things and look to exploit where the space is.”

Meanwhile, another Saracens and England man, forward Billy Vunipola, says he will pay little attention to any of Gatland’s mindgames in the build-up to the game.

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Gatland recently said England “have got the problem of which way they want to play and who they want to play”. But Vunipola, who came off the bench to score the host nation’s fourth try against Fiji, said: “It doesn’t interest me what he has to say, to be honest. He is very good at mind games.

“Mind games don’t really interest me. I’m more interested in the fact we are playing Wales at home in a World Cup and I am in it.”