sport

Lancaster unfazed by parent trap

Pushy parent syndrome has no place in England's drive towards Rugby World Cup 2015, according to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

The England boss now has two frontline fly-halves whose fearsome fathers hold coaching roles in some way.

Elite Player Squad new boy George Ford's dad Mike has helped reinvigorate West Country men Bath in his head coach role at The Recreation Ground.

First-choice fly-half Owen Farrell's father Andy is one of Lancaster's chief backroom lieutenants.

Lancaster said those family ties will help, not hinder, England's cause.

"Those links have always been there from the outset anyway," said the former Leeds coach.

"The ultimate decision-maker on selection is me: I take Andy (Farrell) and Mike Catt's opinions on board, but I make the final call.

"Owen and George won't have any issues with all of that either, they have grown up with it.

"They are also mates who have come through our age-group system together, played alongside each other before and get along very well.

"They will compete extremely hard with each other, and that's what you would expect.

"That streak will allow them to drive each other on, as it has previously."

Lancaster dropped Leicester captain Toby Flood to accelerate 20-year-old Ford's international career.

Flood will join Toulouse in the summer, spelling the end of his 60-cap international career with England not selecting overseas-based players.

Unfazed by losing his most experienced squad member, Lancaster backed Ford and Gloucester's Freddie Burns to heap the pressure on first-choice playmaker Farrell.

"There are 20 months and 20 games to go to the World Cup in this country," said Lancaster.

"I'd be very surprised during the course of those 20 games Owen Farrell plays every minute of every game.

"He's unlikely to avoid injury entirely, and he'll be put under pressure by the other players.

"It's going to be close, the competition will be fierce."