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Rugby | Six Nations

Barritt glad to be 'pillar of strength'



Brad Barritt may not be a fans' favourite but so long as he has the respect of his teammates England's midfield defensive anchorman is perfectly happy to keep adding to his tackle count.

All great rugby teams feature a balance of skills and defence has become a key component of the modern game.

It may not win man-of-the-match awards but such is the importance of the 26-year-old South Africa-born Saracens centre to Stuart Lancaster's set-up the England head coach has so far resisted the temptation to start with the more seemingly attack-minded midfield duo of Billy Twelvetrees and Manu Tuilagi.

Barritt surprised his critics by scoring a well-taken try during England's shock 38-21 win against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in November.

He has since helped the team to the top of the Six Nations table by featuring in victories over Scotland and Ireland.

Much will be expected of England's midfield rock should a France side bidding, astonishingly, for a first win this Six Nations opt for the centre pairing of Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud at Twickenham on Saturday.

"Everyone enjoys a fast attacking game but you can also enjoy grinding out a win and being a pillar of strength – defend and lead from the front," Barritt said on Wednesday.

"I like to think I'm adaptable and can play what's in front of me.

"As long as you have the respect of the team you are in and the people you play for, that is what matters.

"It may take longer for others to see it but you need to be true to yourself and keep working because, eventually, people will see it.

"You just have to ensure you are doing your best for the side every day. I am very satisfied so far."

In Dublin, Barritt helped neutralise the threat of Ireland's vastly experienced midfield duo of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy.

At more than 18 stone in weight, Bastareaud is far more of a physical handful than the Irish pair.

"He is a big physical presence but size isn't everything in rugby," Barritt said. "If we get our line speed right the biggest guys can fall just as hard.

"That is something we work hard on as a team, getting our line speed right and not allowing teams to get any momentum.

"The way we applied pressure on the Irish and intensity in the kick chase were monumental to our success in Dublin.

"We are confident because of what we have done – but we are aware we need to improve because we expect a resurgent France team at Twickenham."

Both England and France are due to name their sides on Thursday.

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