Trust me, Bar­ritt is the right call

Brad is so com­pet­i­tive it is best to avoid him in train­ing. I know he will de­liver tonight

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Sport: Rugby World Cup 2015 -

Crit­ics of Brad Bar­ritt’s per­for­mance against Wales last Satur­day may have been sur­prised to see him re­tained in the Eng­land mid­field to face Aus­tralia tonight. But if there is one man I would rely on to be a rock for Eng­land in the in­tense pres­sure they will face at Twick­en­ham, it is Brad.

Off the field, he is a quiet, in­tel­li­gent lad, a fam­ily man. Yet on it, he is one of the most com­pet­i­tive beasts I have played with or against.

I would put him up there with Lewis Moody and Jac­ques Burger as play­ers who give ev­ery­thing to the shirt, no mat­ter whether it is their na­tional side or club. They give it all ev­ery sin­gle week.

For Brad, that even in­cludes train­ing ses­sions. You stay away from Brad in train­ing. You will end up with a black eye from an el­bow to the face, he will have taken two toes off you by stand­ing on your foot and he will not have felt a thing. He will protest, “It wasn’t me”, but Brad, let me tell you, it was you.

He is just too hard for his own good.

At Sara­cens a cou­ple of years ago we had a tack­ling drill be­fore games – just a cou­ple of hits to get warm. But too many peo­ple were get­ting in­jured be­cause of Brad that we had to can­cel the drill.

If he misses a tackle or gets sidestepped in train­ing when it is just shoul­der on con­tact – not full on – that is it. He is go­ing to smash you full on next time.

Yet while he is an ul­tra­com­peti­tor, Brad is not overtly ag­gres­sive on the pitch. He is ac­tu­ally quite con­trolled.

I am prob­a­bly the hot-headed type where I lose my con­cen­tra­tion quite quickly but Brad can stay in the mo­ment, while be­ing ag­gres­sive, and make the right de­ci­sion by stay­ing calm.

That is so hard to do. The more peo­ple you have got with ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship qual­i­ties like that in the team, the bet­ter you han­dle the sit­u­a­tion you are in if you are be­hind or in front. You have a bet­ter game un­der­stand­ing, a feel for the game and you can­not get enough of play­ers like Brad in the team. It will only help Eng­land keep calm in the pres­sure of tonight.

That is why I was not sur­prised that he has been re­tained by Eng­land, even though he was crit­i­cised for a poor de­fen­sive read in the build-up to the try by Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies that turned the game on its head last Satur­day.

But that was not solely down to Brad. It was due to a dis­con­nec­tion from the mid­field and wings and when that hap­pens it leaves some­one out to dry.

With the sys­tem that Eng­land run, it is dif­fi­cult to be out on the wing be­cause you have to cover so much ground. Same for the full-back.

You have to put your­self in the po­si­tion to be able to get up with Brad and also get back for a kick and prob­a­bly at that time An­thony Wat­son was just a lit­tle bit dis­con­nected from Brad and not in the po­si­tion to get on the end of the line and get back for a kick.

It is some­thing the wings are con­stantly work­ing on but if you switch off for a split sec­ond it can lead to trou­ble.

I would imag­ine in the heat of the mo­ment, the de­ci­sion was to put pres­sure on Wales. The prob­lem was that Eng­land were a lit­tle bit tight in the mid­field near the ruck.

If any­one had taken one step more to the right, the whole thing would have been shut down no prob­lem.

You can be sure that Brad will make amends tonight. He is back at in­side cen­tre, his pre­ferred po­si­tion, and as I said, he is one of the most con­sis­tent play­ers I have ever played with. You can al­ways rely on him. I know Stu­art Lan­caster knows that too and I have no doubt that Eng­land can count on him tonight.

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