Owen Farrell has his work cut out to dislodge Leicester Tigers fly-half Toby Flood
Leicester Tigers' Toby Flood remains the "master" at fly-half according to his main challenger for the country's No.10 shirt.
Saracens' Owen Farrell has grabbed – and then lost – the starting shirt for his country during the last 12 months.
He made his debut for England at the start of this year's Six Nations aged just 20, and kept his place throughout the campaign, even when Flood returned to form and fitness.
The Saracens man again got the nod to start at outside-half on the summer tour to South Africa but, after England slipped to a 22-17 defeat in the first Test, England head coach Stuart Lancaster turned to Flood to breathe life back into the Red Rose's insipid backs.
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In the second Test, England were steamrollered in the first half but it was the Tigers half-back pairing of Flood and Ben Youngs that dragged the tourists back to the verge of a famous victory.
It was also Flood who started the final match, a 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth.
Rather than bare his teeth at Flood, below, after losing his place, Farrell preferred to focus on the greater good – a fundamental part of Lancaster's set-up.
"I don't see it as a rivalry with Toby," said Farrell. "There are a lot of good players in the Premiership now and a lot of good players in the squad at England.
"All you've got to do is put your best foot forward and play as well as you can each week."
While Flood is currently in possession of the England No.10 shirt and Farrell is waiting in the wings, there are plenty of others throwing their hats into the ring for the spot.
Tigers youngster George Ford has long-been earmarked as a future international, while Danny Cipriani is back from his Australian exile with a number of points to prove.
Farrell, however, believes Flood, who has 50 caps and was England's most senior player on the South Africa tour, remains the standard-bearer.
"I've taken a lot of things from Floody. He's been around for a while and he's not even that old, he's only 26," said Farrell.
"He's very experienced and he knows what he's doing, you take as much as you can off people like that."
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