Barritt on hostile venues

2012-02-02 19:12

Bagshot - England new-boy Brad Barritt hopes having played in some of the world's most intimidating grounds will stand him in good stead when he makes his Test debut against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The Durban-born back was one of three new caps named in the first England team of acting head coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday, along with fellow Saracens centre Owen Farrell, who at 20 is one of the rising stars of the English game.

No matter what the state of the respective sides, Scotland at Murrayfield is always a tough match for England.

Even though they travel to Edinburgh this year as the Six Nations champions, Saturday's match will see England trying to win at Scotland's headquarters for the first time since 2004.

But the 25-year-old Barritt believes he's ready for the challenge, having played in some hostile venues with both South Africa's Sharks and Saracens, with whom he won the English Premiership title last season.

"If I were picking South Africa, it would definitely be playing in Pretoria against the Bulls," Barritt, told reporters at England's training base here on Thursday.

"In European rugby I would say (French side) Clermont which was a great atmosphere but definitely hostile. I would pick those two so far.

"Another one playing in the Super 14 playing against the Waikato Chiefs (in New Zealand) with the guy with the electric handsaw. You have really just got to take it all in and soak up the atmosphere.

"We are expecting a hostile welcome - it is just about performing on the field."

British passport-holder Barritt's inclusion again raises the vexed issue of whether England are sufficiently 'English'.

For example, Saturday's 1st XV features another South Africa-born player in lock Mouritz Botha, with Dylan Hartley, born in New Zealand, at hooker.

Barritt's parents were originally from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and moved to South Africa the year before he was born.

However, his grandparents were from England, with his grandfather representing English Universities.

Lancaster has set great store by 'playing for the shirt' and Barritt insisted the pride he felt at having the red rose on his chest was no different than if he'd been born and brought up in England.

"To pull on a Test jersey is the ultimate for a player, it is something you dream about as a kid. It will be an immensely proud moment for me and my family to represent England," said Barritt, who is set to have several relatives cheering him on from the stands at Murrayfield.

The task of settling into Test rugby for Barritt should be made slightly easier by having three fellow Saracens alongside him in the backs at Murrayfield, with Lancaster recalling flyhalf Charlie Hodgson and wing David Strettle as well as handing a debut to Farrell.

"We are blessed in the squad with 32 really talented individuals and Owen and I are going to make our debuts together," said Barritt, one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premiership.

"Having Charlie and Strets in the backs means it is a great day for Sarries. But if were to be playing with anybody else I would be just as proud and just as content going into the game."

As to whether Farrell can handle the pressure, Barritt was in no doubt.

"I am sure he will take to it like a duck to water. You have seen in the past 18 months that any obstacle that has come his way, he has embraced it and taken on the challenge."


  • elspeth.hassall - 2012-02-02 23:40

    Good luck Brad!

  • Terence Craig Berry - 2012-02-03 08:23

    All the best to Brad. Atleast he's not badmouthing S.A like certain other expats. I really feel it's a crying shame that we let a player like this slip through our fingers.

  • DenĂ©se - 2012-02-03 18:24

    All the BEST Brad. We at the Sharks, miss you!

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