Barritt set for Test stage

Former Sharks centre Brad Barritt is likely start for England in their Six Nations opener against Scotland in two weeks time.

England kicked off their Six Nations preparations this week as interim coach Stuart Lancaster’s 36-man training squad gathered in Leeds on Monday. Several key players are struggling with injury at the moment, including flanker Tom Wood, centre Manu Tuilagi, flyhalf Toby Flood and locks Courtney Lawes and Louis Deacon. Reports from the UK suggest Durban-born Barritt is now set to feature in the midfield when England tackle Scotland at Murrayfield on 4 February.

This is the 25-year-old Durban-born centre’s second England call-up, but he’s yet to make his Test debut. He only featured in a tour match against the NZ Maori in 2010. Barritt has been impressive for his club Saracens in their domestic and European Cup campaigns, and is considered as the in-form centre in England.

Other South African-born players in the squad include lock Mouritz Botha and prop Matt Stevens.

Meanwhile, Gloucester loose forward Luke Narraway will also be in Leeds as injury cover for Wood (foot). Deacon will not join the national squad as he remains in Leicester to receive the necessary medical treatment.

England training squad:

Forwards – Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Ben Morgan (Scarlets), Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Rob Webber (London Wasps), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs – Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), David Strettle (Saracens), Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).