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Farrell: England in a 'great place'

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Sportal.co.nz     28 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Farrell might have had to lift a few players after Saturday's 16-15 loss to South Africa, but the review of the game did that for him.

England felt as if they were the better team against the Springboks and that a repeat performance will put them in a position to end the All Blacks' 20-match unbeaten run.

"I have said absolutely nothing (to lift the players)," Farrell said. "They are in a great place.

"They have played against two very good teams and the reality of the South Africa game was that we were the best team.

"You can't not be in a good place when you review the game in its entirety.

"There were a couple of places we would like to improve but in the (wet) conditions and in the circumstances we were taking the game to a side who were in good form and had won games recently at a canter.

"We were piling on the pressure and making inroads. Of course there were errors because of the conditions but they made errors too. We were pushing right to the end.

"You play like that against the second best team in the world and you almost win. Sometimes you win these tight games, sometimes you lose them.

"If we produce the same intensity and the same intent you would like to think you will be in any type of Test match."

England's attacking game has been criticised following the defeats to Australia and South Africa, with particular focus being placed on the centre partnership of Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi.

But Farrell does not buy into the theory that England lack enough of a cutting edge to win games against the best teams in the world.

"The rucks against South Africa were so slow that defences were so on top. It is going to be difficult to play any decent attacking game in those conditions," Farrell said.

"But we took the game to them and in broken play we looked dangerous. We were the ones making 50 or 60-metre breaks and we were the ones looking dangerous."

The challenge for England to attack off quick ball will be even tougher this weekend with the All Blacks, and Richie McCaw in particular, masters of competing at the breakdown.

"They have grown up massively in the last three or four years. They don't just pile into the breakdown and make it difficult, they are very accurate in that area," Farrell added.

"Richie McCaw is the master of biding his time, letting it all unfold and then pouncing to make it accurate. We have to make sure we are on the ball because, like any other team, if we get fast ball, if we get over the gain-line and continuity then we can do some damage."

England were due finalise their 23-man squad on Monday night and there is one decision still to take, namely whether Courtney Lawes returns in place of Mouritz Botha.

Lawes has been training with England since last week and made his comeback from a knee injury with 60 minutes for Northampton on Saturday.

"Courtney has come through well so we have a decision to make there," Farrell said.

Alex Corbisiero did not train with the team as the England medics manage his return from a knee injury, but Farrell is confident the loosehead prop will be fit.