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Rugby | Six Nations

Barritt proud of England battle scars



England centre Brad Barritt is happy to wear a few more stitches if they are earned in the course of victory against Ireland on Saturday.

South Africa-born Barritt's tough-tackling in midfield has been at the heart of a new-look England's defensive effort this tournament, where the only blot on their record heading into this weekend's finale was a defeat by Grand Slam chasers Wales.

Barritt, all of whose four England caps to date have come this championship under interim coach Stuart Lancaster, played a key role in England's dramatic 24-22 win away to France in Paris last weekend –arguably the side's best performance of the 2012 Six Nations.

The Saracens midfielder received five stitches in his chin for his trouble and made 16 tackles at the Stade de France to take his England tally to 60 in four matches.

"You want to step up physically," said Barritt. "I have five stitches on my chin. At this point the looks aren't getting any better and I just have to make do with what I have got!

"If it is about helping the team it is a good feeling to come away with that and just show how hard you are willing to work for your teammates," added the 25-year-old UK passport holder, who made his name in his native Natal and was a member of the Emerging Springboks side that won the IRB Nations Cup in 2007.

"That has been one of the strengths of this side from the outset.

"Each player wants to be a leader themselves. You have guys willing to put themselves in harms way and ultimately try and save a sticky situation."

"It is just as important as someone making good yards or scoring a try," Barritt explained.

In Paris, Chris Ashton's decision to come off his wing and tackle France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski stopped an attack by the hosts and led directly to Manu Tuilagi's opening try for England.

Owen Farrell produced a huge tackle on France No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy late in the game and there were key 'hits' from the likes of Phil Dowson, Tom Croft and Dan Cole which raised England's spirits.

"The cumulative effect of someone putting their body on the line and driving opponents back is a big statement both for your side and for the opponents," Barritt explained.

"You say 'wow, Harinordoquy has just gone backwards, Szarzewski just had the ball knocked out of his hand and we have scored a try'.

"It can be just as inspirational for the team and make a big statement on the opposition.

"A concept we have spoken about is try-scoring defence, where you apply the pressure and turn it into attack."

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