Owen Farrell ready to put Lions loyalties aside
England fly half Owen Farrell waves to acknowledge the crowd after England's victory in the Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham, west London, on February 22, 2014 - by Glyn Kirk
Fly-half Farrell is the only member of the England line-up who featured during last year's 2-1 series win in Australia for the combined side, who were coached by Wales boss Warren Gatland.
By contrast, the Welsh starting XV includes 12 Lions from that trip 'Down Under'.
"When the game kicks off, it's just another game," said Farrell at England's Bagshot training base, south-west of London, ahead of a match that sees his side biding for a Triple Crown against two-time defending Six Nations champions Wales.
"You'll get to catch up and have a chat after, but you've got a job to do when you're on the field," added Farrell, whose team are currently in a four-way tie at the top of the standings with Ireland, Wales and France.
"Obviously you have your respect for the players when you get to know them a little bit more as team-mates," said Farrell, the son of England backs coach Andy.
"As far as I'm concerned my respect has only gone up for them."
Someone for whom Farrell has particular admiration is fellow goalkicker and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, last year's player of the Six Nations and man-of-the-series on the Lions' tour.
"I spent quite a bit of time with Leigh, being in the 'kicking club', playing behind him and kicking before games and seeing how he works," Farrell recalled.
"He's an outstanding professional individual and a real good bloke as well, I look forward to catching up with him at the end of the game."
- 'Learning experience' -
England head into Sunday's match on the back of a morale-boosting 13-10 Twickenham victory over a seasoned Ireland side.
"It was a great game for us to close out such a tight Test win against a great team like Ireland and it's something we're very proud of," said England lock Joe Launchbury.
"After the way we lost against France (a last gasp 26-24 defeat in Paris on the opening weekend), we tried to make sure that that didn't happen again."
Farrell and Launchbury, two of rugby's most prized 22-year-olds, were both involved when England suffered a record 30-3 loss to Wales in Cardiff on the final day last season that wrecked a Grand Slam attempt in crushing fashion.
But Launchbury, tipped as a future Lion by many shrewd observers, insisted England had absorbed the impact of a chastening defeat.
"If you're going to have a game like that and brush it under the carpet then it's a double negative.
"It was a tough day for us, a young England side. I'd not been in the team long, and there were a few guys that had never been to Cardiff before, so it was a whole new learning experience but we've had a year to build from that."