England: Owen Farrell's move to inside centre backed by Tim Horan

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell will cede kicking duties, as well as the fly-half role, to George Ford
Autumn internationals: England v Samoa
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday 22 November Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 19:20 GMT; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app; watch highlights on BBC Two on Sunday 23 November at 13:00 GMT

One of the greatest players in rugby union history has backed Owen Farrell's move from fly-half to inside centre.

Former Australia centre Tim Horan, who won two World Cups, believes Farrell can thrive in the England number 12 shirt against Samoa on Saturday.

"He's a wonderful player [and] I think it's a good move," Horan told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Owen has a very good kicking game, a good rugby brain, and I think he will adapt really well," he added.

Highlights: England 28-31 South Africa

Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson - who played alongside Farrell at the start of Stuart Lancaster's spell as head coach - has questioned whether his Saracens' club-mate should shift across the backline, a view supported by the former England centre Jeremy Guscott.

But Horan is confident that replacement fly-half George Ford and Farrell can combine to good effect.

"George Ford will take the pressure off Owen Farrell and it will allow Owen to run the ball a bit more, and view the game without trying to dictate," Horan added.

"I think Owen will show that with less responsibilities - playing at number 12 - he will be able to show the real form everyone is waiting to see,. It would be harder moving from 12 to 13 than from 10 to 12."

"The great thing about England now is that if George Ford wants to run himself, he knows that if he gets caught in the breakdown, he has someone else to step in to first receiver."

Owen Farrell and George Ford
Farrell, left, and Ford played in the same England under-20 side

Horan played in both centre positions during his 80-cap international career, and says the role of the inside centre is every bit as critical as that of the fly-half.

"The number 12 is the link, and the eyes and ears for the nine and the 10. You have to be able to get the ball past the number 12 to ignite the backline," he said. "It's important to have that link player at 12 to create some width in the game."

Ford and Farrell are old friends who played together throughout the age-group levels, helping the England U20s reach the final of the 2011 Junior World Championship.

And Bath stand-off Ford - who will take on the goal-kicking duties at Twickenham - has rejected suggestions the combination will struggle at the highest level.

"We've played a lot together and we've got a good understanding of what we need from each other," the 21-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live.

Hear more from Tim Horan and George Ford on 5 live Rugby with Matt Dawson, Thursday, 20 November from 21:00 GMT.

Additional reporting from Steve Jones.

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