Rugby World Cup: Saracens put Club England first
11:00 18 September 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
We’re one big group now says Barritt
Saracens boast more than a quarter of the players in the England squad for the 2015 World Cup, but Brad Barritt says it’s definitely a case of putting country before club over the next six weeks.
Barritt returned to an England shirt for the first time in almost a year for their last warm-up match against Ireland, as Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth all came off the bench in the 21-13 victory.
George Kruis and Alex Goode were not in the 23-man matchday squad on that occasion, but are in England’s 31-man group as they chase the Webb Ellis Cup.
Barritt said: “We’re obviously very proud as a club to have eight players involved, it’s a testament to the hard work and dedication at Saracens and all our staff and coaching staff have done so much hard work to get us in this position.
“You’ve got young guys like Jamie, Mako and Billy, who are relishing the opportunity and they’re growing with each outing in an England shirt.
“But we’ve been together now for 11-12 weeks and any club ties are dissipated. We’re essentially a group of 31 now and we’ve worked hard at trying to bring it tighter and together.
“There’s a great camaraderie between all the players and we’re very much of the frame of mind that it’s all about England now and we’ll put the club feelings on hold.”
Durban-born Barritt, 29, had not played for England since the November 2014 meeting with Australia due to a knee injury, but his excellent defensive skills and distribution were on show and he combined well with Jonathan Joseph in the centres.
It was the first time they had started together and the 13th pairing tried by coach Stuart Lancaster, with some believing it may be his first choice now.
Barritt added: “It’s not for me to say. It’s about the here and now with England. In terms of how we can get the best out of our team it definitely was a well-balanced back line.
“It’s fantastic to be back in an England shirt. Every opportunity to play for England is very special. I relished the opportunity to be back and to play against a quality Irish team was a great way to step back into the fold.
“It’s a combination that worked really well. As a first starting pair I think it came very naturally.
“JJ and I have been together in England squads for three or four years, but because we haven’t started together maybe a lot has been said. But we’ve trained together, been in the matchday 23 together for some time,
“It can be seamless when you go out on the pitch, so in terms of what we put out there I think it’s a very pleasing performance.”
Barritt made way for Sam Burgess for the last 20 minutes, with the former rugby league winning just his second cap since switching codes.
The inclusion of 26-year-old Burgess by Lancaster has been one of the biggest talking points throughout the build-up to the tournament, but Barritt backs him, adding: “Sam’s been a great addition to the squad, he’s a fantastic guy and we have a great working relationship.
“He’s got a fair grasp on it and we’re very lucky to have two guys in our back line team in Mike Catt and Andy Farrell, who have been in similar boats.”