Keep Manu and me on centre stage says Brad Barritt

Brad BarrittEngland hero Brad Barritt believes his burgeoning centre partnership with Manu Tuilagi could be the start of something special.
Not since the halcyon World Cup-winning days of Will Greenwood and Mike Tindall has the red-rose back-line featured a settled midfield.
Countless pairings have tried and failed, but after putting world champions New Zealand to the sword at Twickenham, Barritt hopes his combination with the human wrecking ball Tuilagi will offer a lasting solution.
“I love playing with Manu – he’s a great player and we’re great mates so it was gratifying for us against the best centre combination in the world,” Barritt told The Rugby Paper.
“The Greenwood/Tindall pairing is something you can really look at. As a player you take it game by game, but obviously beating New Zealand was a huge step forward for us and a great confidence builder.
“The difference is that while we did a lot of the same stuff against Australia and South Africa, we didn’t take our chances. But against New Zealand we did and that makes a big difference to the result and people’s opinion.
“A lot of what we’d been working on in training came to fruition. The unselfish lines people have been running came into effect during that game and it was a great performance by everyone involved – hugely satisfying.”
With a Test match of huge significance to England poised delicately at 15-14, Barritt and Tuilagi combined brilliantly for the try that stopped the All Blacks comeback in its tracks and propelled Stuart Lancaster’s side towards glory.
Barritt claimed the touchdown from Tuilagi’s sweet reverse pass, but was he concerned the 21-year-old would be greedy and get bundled into touch?
“No never,” Barritt replies. “I had full faith in him. We always look to stay alive in those situations so it was just a case of me being in the right place.
“If the pass is to come you need to be aware and ready to be there, so it was nice to get it back from Manu and score my first try for England.”
Barritt started 11 of England’s 12 Tests this year, helping them achieve respectability in the Six Nations and a place in England folklore after beating New Zealand. But was last Saturday his finest hour? “It was definitely a career highlight for the way the game was played and obviously the result,” Barritt said.
“It was one of my best performances. There were a few during the Six Nations I’m quite proud of, but to play against the world champions and the way it all went down, I’d have to say it was a great day for me personally.”
There is no danger of Barritt getting carried away by the hype, though.
Having finally won his battle to establish himself firmly in the England team after moving to Saracens in 2008, the 26-year-old former Natal Shark is aware that his work is not complete.
He said: “There’s no danger of complacency and it’s a hallmark of every position in the squad that you need to show consistent form to play for England, and that’s the way it should be.
“Stuart and the management were fantastic throughout the series and never lost faith that we were heading in the right direction, but that’s something we want to build on now.
“We knew we were due a big performance and we got one, so as this team grows and we spend more time with each other, we’ll go from strength-to-strength.”
NEALE HARVEY

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