This article appeared on EatSleepRugby.co.uk – http://ow.ly/2buTkR
So, there we have it. England have named their 31 man squad and the media have reacted. To include the likes of Slade and Burgess is, according to Lancaster in press conference, “not a gamble.” Telling someone like Luther Burrell, who Lancaster has known since the Northampton Saint was just a lad, must have been tough. Aside from their history, Burrell has stepped up and done a sterling job for Lancaster over the last couple of years. All in hope of a shot at the big one. Tough calls make tough people.
However, amidst all the furore of an England Squad announcement, one name remains unchallenged. Everyone else has come under scrutiny and inspection, but one player appears impervious. In 2015, Brad Barritt has played the same amount of International rugby as I have. Yet, it seems, he was one of the first names on Lancaster’s list. Is he really that good?
Barritt was unpicked and injured for these seemingly pivotal warm up tests against France. The ones which seem to have worked so well for Burgess and Slade. Barritt missed proving his worth with an injury, as did Corbisiero. But while Alex has been binned, Brad has rested easy.
What seems to be playing for Barritt is his previous form in an England shirt. The win versus the All Blacks back in the autumn of 2012 looms large on his CV. And rightfully so, he has been very good. But if we are going to use past performances for him, shouldn’t we do so for Burrell? I mean, Burrell’s 386 minutes out of a possible 400 in the Six Nations earlier this year, where he seemed to play so competently alongside Jonathan Joseph, was impressive. The competition where they beat Wales in Cardiff and narrowly missed out on the title by walloping the French 1st XV. Yes, you say, but Brad has had a good end of season with Saracens and you can’t ever fault his endeavour. I know, I know, I have seen the blood on his face and he and JJ play so well together. What’s that? They have never played together?… This is starting to seem like as good a piece of misdirection as when David Campese looked over his other shoulder and found Tim Horan.
I’m not doubting Barritt’s worth, I just find it strange how he has eluded questioning. He’s not 100% fit and hasn’t shown international form in the calendar year. Surely we can at least ponder his inclusion over someone like Burrell?
England seem a little all over the place at the moment. Whatever good Barritt and Burgess’ inclusion has done within the camp, outside the walls, the natives are getting restless. How good have England got to be against Ireland in a just over a week’s time? Very, I’d say.
Sam Roberts © 2015. (Text only). All Rights Reserved.