Owen Farrell insists his long-standing friendship with George Ford remains intact despite the intense scrutiny that has greeted England's decision to change fly-halves for Saturday's seismic World Cup showdown against Wales.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster has dropped the section bombshell of demoting Ford, his first choice in the position since last autumn and the player credited with igniting the Red Rose attack, and turning to Farrell to direct the critical Pool A clash.
Alongside Sam Burgess' presence at inside centre, the measure has been taken to stiffen the midfield defence in anticipation of the Jamie Roberts-led Welsh onslaught imminent at Twickenham.
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Ford was "devastated and gutted" by his relegation to the bench, according to his father Mike, but Farrell insists it is business as usual.
"We have been exactly the same. Absolutely normal. We talk about everything anyway, it's pretty open between us," Farrell said.
"It's exactly the same as it was last week, as it was in the autumn when he got picked and I went on the bench. Exactly the same.
"We've played with each other since we went to school together at 13 or 14 and then played for England at Under-16, 18 and 20 levels. We are just open with each other.
"Rugby-wise we are two people who are obsessed with the game. We like to talk about it and we are probably a bit boring - all we talk about is rugby."
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