Durban-born Barritt back to face Boks

2012-06-08 00:00

CENTRE Brad Barritt will return to his stamping ground in Durban when he joins fellow-South African Mouritz Botha in the England team to face the Springboks in the first Test at King’s Park tomorrow evening.

The Durban-born Barritt, who schooled at Kearsney College, played for the Sharks for three years (2006-2008) before joining London club Saracens.

His consistency and stubborn defence were rewarded earlier this year when he was handed his first full England cap in the Six Nations. Tomorrow, in the battle of the midfield, he will directly oppose former Sharks team-mate Frans Steyn, who has returned to Durban after a stint with French club Racing Metro.

Barritt will have another KZN product, the two metre tall Botha, alongside him for the ride. The 30-year-old Botha, who was born in Vryheid, has been playing club rugby for Bedford and Saracens since 2006 and he made his England debut last year.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is looking to Botha to expose the Springboks’ inexperience at lock, where they are fielding two new caps in the 20-year-old Eben Etzebeth and Juandré Kruger.

Lancaster yesterday included a pair of new caps in his starting line-up in flank Tom Johnson and prop Joe Marler. The team shows five changes — one positional — to the team which played Ireland in the final Six Nations international this season.

Johnson takes over from the injured Tom Croft and Marler replaces Alex Corbisiero in the front-row.

Ben Youngs will start in place of Lee Dickson at scrumhalf, Ben Foden moves to the left wing for David Strettle and Mike Brown starts at fullback.

Lancaster said yesterday that his two new caps deserved the opportunity, while changes to his back three (wing and fullback) are obviously aimed at countering the tactical kicking game of Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn.

“Tom and Joe have had great seasons at their clubs and have worked really hard to get this chance. Both are in great form and have really impressed in training. Mike Brown has been outstanding for Harlequins. By moving Ben to the wing we retain his strike power and aerial skills and can utilise not only Mike’s attacking and defensive assets, we can also call on his left-footed kicking game.

“Selection is competitive in lots of positions, particularly at scrumhalf. We are really pleased with Ben Youngs’s form and he knows our systems well.”

Lancaster said the tourists were expecting the most physical of challenges.

“We have made no secret of how tough this series will be, but it is an opportunity we are looking forward to and I am confident that we can perform.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is looking to the Springboks’ attitude to patch over any rustiness and lack of second-row experience.

He told reporters that he had every confidence that the talent of his new locks would prevail and praised the approach of the players.

“This has been the best week I have ever had in terms of pure attitude since I started coaching, and I am not just saying it because it is the Springboks. After last week’s tough derby matches in Super Rugby I couldn’t believe it when the medical staff told me everyone was fit to train on Monday.

“I have always said I will only pick players that are 110% hungry to play for South Africa and the 22 I have chosen for this game reflect that attitude. Every player has trained every day this week and not in my wildest dreams did I think that will be possible at this stage of a tough season. I can sense the players know good enough is not really good enough, only the best is good enough,” said Meyer.

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