- Brad Barritt speaks about England's versatility as a team
- Saracens centre happy to contribute in any way possible
Brad Barritt believes that England’s ability to adapt their game strategy has been the driving force behind the side’s unbeaten record so far in the RBS 6 Nations.
England are the only team left in the tournament with a 100 per cent win record after beating Scotland and Ireland in the opening two fixtures.
And the contrasting manner of the victories so far has highlighted the team's new found versatility. The opening 38-18 win against The Scots at Twickenham revealed the side’s attacking potency in dry conditions, with four tries from Chris Ashton, Billy Twelvetrees, Geoff Parling and Danny Care combining with the ever-clinical boot of Owen Farrell.
In Dublin however the wet conditions required England to switch to a more defensive strategy, kicking more and playing less with ball in hand. Against Ireland England ran the least amount of phases (52) for some time and they only completed one offload compared to the 19 they made against Scotland.
“It’s a key component of Test match rugby, our adaptability,” said Barritt. "I think the team has shown that on their day they can do what they need to do in terms of winning, and I think that Dublin is one of those arenas where you need to be at your best to win.
“It’s definitely on par with the away win in France last season and is a huge momentum builder and a huge psychological win for the side. I think the level of execution we showed in tough conditions was the very pleasing thing from it and I guess from this it’s just another step forward and this team is ever growing and ever improving.”
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And the Saracens centre is emblematic of that versatility, adapting his game to the match conditions. After a first Test try against New Zealand in December, Barritt was top carrier against Scotland (14) and the top tackler in the backline against Ireland (eight). The 26-year-old has started 12 of 14 games at centre for Lancaster and has shown himself to be an integral part of the midfield in both defence and attack.
Since the start of last year Barritt has made 89 carries, the second most of any centre in Test rugby (Wales’ Jonathan Davies has made 90) and made more tackles than all the other England centres combined (104) since the start of Lancaster’s era, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Although he may have been under the media’s microscope more closely in recent matches due to the emergence of Gloucester Rugby’s Twelvetrees, Barritt is happy with his performances so far in this year’s tournament and says the team is becoming a tight knit unit.
“Being adaptable is something I pride myself on,” he said. “Having a key role in attack when it’s on and having that rugged defence when you need it is essential and as a player I think you thrive on playing these different matches and having a bigger skill set when the team needs you.
“The team performance was key in this kind of game [against Ireland] that it proves that every little component in the game needs to go well. Small things like getting out of your own territory and the restarts were key and that involved guys getting back up off the floor, chasing down the kicks, applying the pressure on Ireland and getting us that field position. It's key in every role and I think there's that level of everyone wanting to do their bit for the side.”