England excited for Boks challenge - Farrell

  • England v South Africa big preview - read
  • Tom May's three England players to watch - read
  • Jones on his team to face the Springboks - read

Owen Farrell says the whole squad are excited about the challenge of facing South Africa in the first Test on Saturday at Ellis Park.

Farrell will lead the side from inside centre in the first of three Tests against the Springboks across June.

The Saracens back is one of a handful of players in the squad that last toured South Africa six years ago, and is looking forward to the challenge again.

“We’ve talked a bit about playing at an unbelievable stadium in front of a very passionate crowd, and it’s a passionate nation really," he said.

“It’s a massive opportunity for us and it‘s one to get excited about."

Eddie Jones has told his players to be prepared for the 'aggressive environment' this weekend, and Farrell says England are aware of the confrontation awaiting them.

“I don’t think you can turn up in South Africa and not expect a physical challenge, that’s a given," the 26-year-old added.

“With watching them last week I don’t think they gave away too much - they were pretty direct and that could be where they’re going moving forward. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for anything really.”

Team of leaders

Farrell, who was crowned Aviva Premiership champions with Saracens this season, is leading the side in the absence of regular captain Dylan Hartley.

Having captained both club and country before, he says his role as a leader in the back division means he will not have to change much in his preparation for the Boks.

“I’m constantly involved anyway," he continued.

"Being in an environment like this it’s brilliant because of the challenge of it - the challenge of trying to get better, trying to improve as a team and individually.

“In that sense it doesn’t make any sort of difference, but the way that we’re going in terms of the team, in terms of leadership, the boys around me are doing a fantastic job - they’re all brilliant leaders in their own way."

New faces

There are two uncapped players named in the matchday squad in scrum half Ben Spencer and forward Brad Shields.

Shields has joined up with the squad for the first time and although Farrell has been impressed with what he has seen so far, he tried to help him settle in as quickly as possible.

“I think his attitude has been brilliant so far, he’s come in and he’s got his head down," stated Farrell.

“When you come into a new team you have a fair bit to learn, especially as a forward, so he’s been getting on with that. A lot of lads have let him know that if he needs anything then give them a shout, don’t be worried about nagging us.

“At the same time you don’t want to bombard him and throw him under a big pile of things that he doesn’t need to worry about.

“The main thing is he needs to free himself up to perform at the weekend and I’m sure he’s building towards that."