England head coach Andy Robinson has mounted a vigorous defence of Andy Farrell's controversial cross-code switch and pleaded for his critics to reserve judgment.

Former Great Britain and Wigan rugby league captain Farrell (right) has endured a testing time since he joined the union ranks in a lucrative six-figure move 18 months ago.

Injuries have played a significant part in stalling his development, but with England's opening Test of the season against New Zealand barely a month away, Farrell remains a long way from international recognition. There is even dispute about his best position in the 15-man game with England clearly identifying him as an inside centre, while his club - Saracens - have so far selected him at blindside flanker.

The Farrell debate is over-shadowing Robinson's preparations for the autumn internationals, yet it is an issue that will not quietly disappear.

Robinson will meet Saracens rugby director Alan Gaffney today in the latest discussions between club and country about Farrell's development, but England head coach Robinson has pleaded for time.

Farrell spent two days working with England's coaching team as part of the elite player squad at Loughborough University this week, and Robinson retains faith in his ability to make a success of rugby union.

He explained: "The two days we had were great. It is important that Andy has time on the pitch, and he has got to get that time with his team-mates.

"He is going to be judged for England by how he performs for Saracens."

Farrell's Union experience has been restricted to one Anglo-Welsh Cup outing, one brief Guinness Premiership substitute appearance and a couple of run-outs in the second-team Guinness A League and with England's World Cup defence now less than a year away, it is stretching the imagination to think he could be part of that squad.

But a defiant Robinson added: "To judge Andy on a couple of performances, which I think is what is taking place, I find bizarre.

"This is a guy who has been out of the game for 18 months, so physically, he has got to get his match-fitness right, first and foremost.

"And he is playing a sport he hasn't played before, so it is going to take at least three or four months before we start to see the best of him.

"I am not doubting what Andy Farrell can do. What I would say is people should give him time to develop and make judgments in three months, not after two games.

"If I have got one wildcard that maybe we've used, then I have probably used that."

Robinson repeatedly refused to disclose the nature of conversations between himself, his England coaching staff and Gaffney, but there is clearly considerable disagreement on what is felt Farrell's position might be.