McCall backs Barritt for England

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has called for centre Brad Barritt to be reinstated in England’s midfield ahead of the eagerly anticipated QBE Internationals series in November.

Barritt, who recovered from a calf injury to take his place in Saracens’ starting line-up against Gloucester, was his usual industrious self at Allianz Park as the hosts claimed a hard-fought 28-21 Aviva Premiership victory.

Barritt’s last appearance in an England shirt was the 30-3 Six Nations defeat to Wales in Cardiff in 2013, and the Saracens boss thinks national head coach Stuart Lancaster should recall the Sarries centre.

“People underestimate Brad,” said McCall. “They think he’s a ‘one-trick pony’, that he can only defend. And he defended brilliantly today, but there’s much more to his game and also his presence on the pitch.

“Without question, he’s the most competitive person that I’ve come across and he leads by example.

“I would have him on my international team every day of the week and I think there are a lot of people who would agree with that.”

McCall also praised fellow England hopeful Billy Vunipola, who seemed to get the better of Gloucester number eight and international rival Ben Morgan.

“They tackled him well,” McCall said. “But he got us a lot of gainline. Some of his defence was outstanding. He had a great game.”

For the second time in two weeks, Saracens found themselves trailing early in the contest to a Rob Cook try, but hit back with Chris Wyles, Alistair Hargreaves and Chris Ashton crossing while fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked three penalties and added two conversions in an assured display.

Tom Savage replied late on with a second try for Gloucester while Greig Laidlaw was flawless from the tee with four successful kicks, but Billy Twelvetrees missed two long-range efforts at goal which proved costly for the visitors.

McCall was thrilled with his side’s fightback, saying: “I thought we bounced back really well.

“We went from 13-3 down to winning the game 28-16 (before Savage’s late try), so we won that period of the game 25-3.”

The Saracens boss also confirmed that Owen Farrell will return to training next week ahead of his side’s opening European Champions Cup encounter against Clermont .

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys cited Wyles’ try as a crucial moment in his team’s defeat.

The Cherry and Whites had established an early 13-3 lead but the United States centre charged down Twelvetrees’ clearance kick and raced away to score.

“The charge down was a big turning point,” said Humphreys.

“Huge credit to Saracens. Against lots of other teams, you’d maybe count yourself unlucky but they get a lot of charge down kicks over the course of the season.”

Humphreys was proud of his troops despite the loss and insists that his new-look outfit have moved on since their opening day dismantling by Northampton.

He said: “We’ve come a long way in six weeks. Now we’ve shown that we can compete with the top teams.

“Now it’s about establishing some belief within our squad that we can go out and perform at a level which allows us to put a team like Saracens under pressure.”

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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