Now Barritt homes in on England spot earmarked for Saracens team-mate Farrell
When Saracens face the Ospreys in Swansea, Owen Farrell will not be in the No 12 shirt that many expect him to wear for England. At the Aviva Premiership”s champion club, that shirt belongs to Brad Barritt.
The Anglo-South African centre has made the place his own after three seasons of incredible consistency since moving from Durban to Hertfordshire.
When Charlie Hodgson arrived from Sale in the summer, it wasn”t Barritt who shifted to accommodate him, it was Farrell.
Action man: Centre Brad Barritt”s career has taken off at Saracens
While the son of club and now national coach Andy Farrell is seen as a prime contender for Six Nations selection outside Toby Flood in a new 10-12 combination, Barritt has his own designs on England”s midfield.
He has played for the Saxons, but had only one appearance for the senior side, in a defeat by New Zealand Maori last summer.
With Jonny Wilkinson out of the picture, it is possible Farrell will be seen as a deputy for Flood rather than a sidekick, so the door could open for Barritt.
As a fixture in the rejigged Saracens XV again this year, he is happy with his role and his efforts.
Young pretender: Saracens” Owen Farrell
“The results speak for themselves,” he said, with the club top of their Heineken Cup pool and second in the Premiership. “I”ve been defending at 13, then shifting into 12 in attack. I see myself at my best at 12 and as someone who can be a big, ball-carrying centre and a playmaking centre.
“My defensive work is something I pride myself on and I”ve been a goal-kicker, playing at 10. I like to think that being quite versatile would help me.”
As one of a number of overseas contenders chasing England recognition, Barritt, 25, is keen to alter perceptions and said: “I”ve got all English grandparents and my mum spent a lot of time here as a kid. The family is from London and Devon. I”ve always had a strong English culture and when I was growing up I was familiar with lots of little English things like Yorkshire pudding!
“I”d like to think that after being here for three years I can be viewed as an English player with South African connections. I came here very young – 22, 23 – and I want to show I am here for the long haul. I think that”s a lot different to a guy who comes over in his late 20s or early 30s, then kicks on to play for England.”
New boy: Charlie Hodgson (centre) has stepped in as Sarries” No 10
As a child, Barritt recalls a family outing to watch England versus Wales in the Six Nations at Twickenham. His ambition now is to be involved in that fixture and his hope is that a new regime – featuring Farrell Snr – will look on him favourably.
“In terms of international rugby, it is always down to the opinion of one or two men,” he said. “You can”t get too cut up about what they perceive to be the perfect 12. With management moving on and changing, I”d like to think I can impress and get another opportunity.”
Saracens are unchanged for tonight”s trip to the Liberty Stadium, following a 31-26 win in the reverse fixture at Wembley six days ago.
The Ospreys have locks Ian Gough and Ian Evans returning in a side led by young flanker Justin Tipuric.