England captain Owen Farrell is a rugby “genius” whose game is thriving with the extra responsibility of leadership, according to team-mate Jamie George.
Fly-half Farrell pulled the strings superbly as England thrashed France 44-8 at Twickenham on Sunday to make it two wins out of two this Six Nations and leave them well-placed for a potential Championship decider against a similarly unbeaten Wales in Cardiff next time out on February 23.
Jonny May ran in a hat-trick of tries inside the opening half hour, with England scoring six in total as they recorded their biggest win over France since 1911.
But while the dashing May was the headline act, the excellent tactical kicking on show from the likes of Farrell, a try-scorer himself against the French, helped create the opportunities that led to the wing’s treble.
An England co-captain with Dylan Hartley during the November internationals, the hooker’s injury-enforced absence has now seen Farrell take sole charge.
‘Never has a bad game’
George, now England’s undisputed starting hooker and a Saracens team-mate of Farrell was in no doubt of the stand-off’s quality, saying: “The bloke’s a genius. I never see him have a bad game and that’s why he’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world.
“In my eyes, it’s amazing to be playing with a fly-half and captain who is as dominant as he is and who leads from the front in the way that he does.
“Owen’s been a captain and leader for a long time now. It’s not a new thing for us but he does it really well and it brings the best out of him in terms of his game. He’s performing really well.”
But George insisted England, set to play France again in a pool match at this year’s World Cup in Japan, still had room for improvement ahead of their showdown with Wales.
“We have to be aware that we did well against France but recognise that it wasn’t the perfect performance,” he said.
“An exciting thing for us is there’s still a lot to come. The important thing for us is to keep the ball rolling.”
England ran in four tries alone in the opening 40 minutes against France, with centre Henry Slade adding to May’s treble just before the interval.
“If you’re 30-8 up against France at half time you are doing something right,” said England scrum-half Ben Youngs after a win that followed a convincing 32-20 first-round victory away to Six Nations champions Ireland.
But with Wales having launched their tile challenge by defeating France and Italy, Youngs was not taking anything for granted ahead of England’s visit to the Principality Stadium.
“Wales have had a good run. We are going to embrace and enjoy the big two-week build-up,” Youngs said.
“This is what the Championship is about — it always comes down to certain games.
“France was a Championship decider, the same in a fortnight’s time. We will take every game as it comes but certainly, this one is hugely exciting.”