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Barritt keen to show versatility

England centre Brad Barritt bristles at his "unwarranted" reputation as a one-dimensional player selected purely to stiffen the defence.

Barritt started his first Test since March 2013 when he lined-up alongside Kyle Eastmond in Saturday's 24-21 defeat by New Zealand and the same midfield is set to be retained for the QBE International against South Africa this weekend.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster views the Saracen as one of the finest defenders in the Aviva Premiership, but Barritt insists there is more to his game than tackling and acting as a battering ram.

"Sometimes I think it's just an easy thing to write. I've spoken this year about the different things I bring in attack and the different aspects I have in my game," Barritt said

"We do a lot of work with (assistant coaches) Mike Catt and Andy Farrell on bringing the attacking flair out of you as a player and that's definitely been a big positive for me.

"But reliability is something equally important in the Test arena because games are often decided by small margins.

"Having players who bring people together as a lynchpin in attack and defence is what you need.

"Sometimes I think that what is said about me is unwarranted because I try to bring what is needed on that day to win a Test."

Mike Catt, England's attacking skills coach, confirmed that Barritt and Eastmond will renew their centre partnership for the second time following Eastmond's recovery from illness.

It was Barritt's reliability that gave Lancaster the confidence to select Eastmond last Saturday after the Bath threequarter had been exposed in the third Test of the summer tour to New Zealand.

Catt believes Barritt's presence has a reassuring effect on England, highlighting the organisation he brings to the team.

"Brad does the simple things very well. He carries the ball well and what he brings to the team is what you don't see. It's not about him on the ball, it is what he does around the ball," Catt said.

"It is how he makes the team feel and you can't underestimate defence in international rugby, it is what it's about.

"Every team that has won the World Cup has had the best defence, not the best attack.

"You need people like Brad. He's a good, honest guy who does his role and does what needs to be done in attack.

"He's one of the leaders. He is composed, he gives the guys solutions on the pitch and everybody feels very comfortable having him around."

Durban-born Barritt played for South Africa Under-21s and the Emerging Springboks before joining Saracens in 2008 and qualifying for England as a UK passport holder through his Rhodesian parents.

The 28-year-old is keen to impress against the nation of his birth and is ready for any sledging from former provincial team-mates.

"Every Test for England is important, you don't prioritise any of them, but I guess there is an added incentive against the country of your birth," Barritt said.

"The key is to give a performance we can be proud of and we need to take the opportunity of doing that against the second ranked side in the world.

"I'm truly integrated into this England team. I've been involved since 2009 and it is definitely where I consider home.

"There are Springboks I have played with in the past and that is always an interesting dynamic.

"It is always a strange feeling but once you get out on the pitch that goes out the window.

"If any sledging comes my way then I'll happily take it and give it back equally, but in the heat of the battle you can't really prioritise yourself."

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