Sir Clive Woodward has assessed who he believes is the best goal-kicker in World rugby and there is only one winner for him.
Woodward, who coached England to World Cup glory in 2003, has run his rule over the contenders, in his Daily Mail column and believes that, on the big stage and when the pressure is on, Owen Farrell is the man for the occasion.
Speaking ahead of England’s clash with New Zealand, on Saturday, Woodward compared England’s no. 10 Farrell with his Kiwi counterpart Beauden Barrett, in terms of their kicking prowess and impact on the game.
“Owen Farrell or Beauden Barrett? Who would you pick to play at No 10 if your life depended on it?
“Barrett is a phenomenal strike runner and try scorer with 31 Test tries and hits the gainline flatter and with more pace than anyone in world rugby.
“Yet as a goal-kicker he can be decidedly hot and cold. He can kick beautifully when all the stars align but I wouldn't necessarily want him kicking a touchline conversion to win the World Cup.” He continued.
“Farrell is the best big-match goal-kicker in the world - Wilkinson-esque in his consistency. I never expect him to miss even the most difficult kicks which is a huge plus at this elite level.”
Woodward has noticed a particular aspect in both of their games that it underused - drop goals.
And in a match which is expected to be tightly contested, the ex-England coach believes both fly-halves should consider breaking the habit of a lifetime to give their team the edge.
He continued: "I have one bit of 'positive feedback' to both of these incredible players. In 132 Tests between them they have kicked just two drop-goals, both by Farrell. I'm not sure I can remember Barrett attempting one.
"Both are brilliant strikers of the ball so, guys, let's see the full range of your genius. Drop goals are as important in the first minute as the last and New Zealand more than any other team have never grasped their importance in true knockout rugby. Don't let the art die."
England go into the Test match as massive underdogs, but Woodward believes that - providing they have genuine belief in themselves - that they can pull off an upset and that winning is achievable.
“The mental side of rugby is endlessly fascinating and if England truly believe they can beat the world champions on Saturday afternoon, there is every possibility of that happening.
“England have just as many good rugby players as New Zealand, just as much skill and - for the first time in over a decade - they can match their fitness."
"I will be intrigued to see England's body language when they arrive at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon and in the warm-up. It's difficult on TV but down on the touchline you can see if a group are confident and in control or a bit nervous and anxious. England need to be ultra-positive but clever on Saturday.”
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