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What the Lions make of their 10/12 Russell/Farrell combination

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Warren Gatland has explained why he has decided to create a 10/12 partnership consisting of Finn Russell and Owen Farrell for this Saturday’s Lions match eight weeks after specifically selecting the England captain as an out-half for the tour to South Africa.


Farrell came off the bench last weekend at Murrayfield, replacing Bundee Aki at inside centre and playing the last 25 minutes of the win over Japan alongside starting out-half Dan Biggar. 

However, rather than that cameo priming him for a start one place in at out-half in the Lions’ first match on South African soil, Farrell has been chosen to start at centre after Gatland was impressed by the rapport he has formed in training with Russell stationed at No10. 

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“They have worked really well together,” enthused Lions boss Gatland about a role where he used Farrell to great effect in the 2017 tour to New Zealand with Johnny Sexton. “Owen has a huge amount of experience. Third tour, captain of England as well, so he is adding a lot to the environment, and then Finn has a slightly different way of playing. 

“He has matured amazingly the last few years in terms of his game management and the way he controls the game and we know what flair he has from an attacking perspective, and also it’s just little deft attacking kicks that he is able to bring to his game. 

“I thought against France the way that he managed that game and his kicking game control was outstanding. It’s pretty exciting to have a look at that combination. We do want to have a look at Owen at ten at some stage as well and give him an opportunity there because that is where he has been picked, but we know that he is equally comfortable in the twelve position.


“If you look back at 2017 he played ten and then we moved him to twelve in the Crusaders game when Johnny Sexton came on and that combination went really well. It does give us an opportunity to have a look at different combinations and he is very comfortable at both ten and twelve.”


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