10:13pm Tuesday 13th March 2012
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Owen Farrell's billing as England's new Jonny Wilkinson becomes more pertinent with every Test match he plays - however much he tries to eschew the comparisons.
Farrell, at the age of 20, has already seen his work ethic, temperament, control and goal-kicking likened favourably to England's 2003 World Cup-winning fly-half. Defence can now be added to that list after Farrell's shuddering tackle on France number eight Imanol Harinordoquy in the closing stages of England's 24-22 victory at the Stade de France.
Wilkinson changed the job description of a fly-half with his tackling, and Farrell said: "I enjoy getting stuck in. I would not like people to think I'm a weak link in defence, no definitely not. I am not particularly (trying to emulate Wilkinson) but obviously you realise that for a fella playing fly-half, going around putting all those big hits in, it was brilliant to watch."
He added: "I played a lot at centre growing up and you just want to make a positive impact on the game. If you give yards in tackles that for me is not a positive impact.
"Just like anybody else, if an opportunity presents itself where you can really throw yourself in and make a big hit then I will try to take it.
"Everyone has to make tackles. Defence allows you to be very physical, especially the way we defend.
"We want to get off the line and smash people and we want to impose ourselves on opposition. Everyone enjoys defending here and everyone gets stuck in. That bodes well."
It did not matter to Farrell - 6ft 2in, 15st 1lb - that the man thundering towards him was the French man of the match Harinordoquy - 6ft 4in, 17st 1lb.
"You want to chop people down and get people on the floor as quickly as possible," Farrell said. "I saw Harinordoquy coming steaming onto a short ball and lined him up. You can tell when you've hit someone hard! I got a slight knock on the shoulder but it's feeling much better now.
"What satisfied me was that we went to France, played some good rugby along the way and came away with a win. The character we showed and the way we got stuck in for each other was brilliant."
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