England must improve to become world's best, says Owen Farrell

8 March 2018, 14:53

Owen Farrell insists the goal remains to help England become the best team in the world as he prepares to start his first game as captain in Saturday's Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Farrell steps in for regular skipper Dylan Hartley, who misses Saturday's encounter after picking up a calf injury during England's 25-13 Six Nations loss to Scotland at Murrayfield a fortnight ago.

The Saracens star hopes England can put their Calcutta Cup defeat behind them, demanding the team turn in a vastly improved performance at the Stade de France this weekend.

"We've got to improve [and] we've got to get better," Farrell told Sky Sports News. "We're on a journey to hopefully become the best team in the world and to do that we've got to get better.

"We've had a couple of weeks now to prepare to do that. We feel like we have had a good couple of weeks and now it's all about us getting excited for a big challenge.

"The team have been brilliant this week. We've trained really well and we can take a lot of confidence from the way that we have prepared.

"It's a big challenge going to Paris and playing against a tough team so we're going to get excited about it now."

Coach Eddie Jones has regularly described Farrell as a natural leader within the England squad and the 26-year-old says he does not feel burdened by the additional pressure that comes with the armband.

"I don't think it will be any different [being captain] to the way I have been as a player so far," he said.

"Dylan is still around. He's doing a brilliant job behind the scenes. Obviously there are a couple more responsibilities you take on but I don't think anything changes too much."

Farrell insists there are plenty of leaders in the England dressing-room and revealed he will lean on club team-mate Mako Vunipola after the prop was named vice-captain for the trip to Paris.

"Mako is brilliant," Farrell said. "He leads from the front with his actions. He's always first to put his hand up to do the hard work and the lads love to follow that."