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Barritt is world class - Farrell

Brad Barritt has been hailed as the "cornerstone" of the new-look England team, who head into Sunday's clash with France believing they can still win the RBS 6 Nations title.

If England are to stand any chance of defending their crown, they must win in Paris, beat Ireland at home and hope that Grand Slam-chasing Wales lose to either Italy or France. But England's assistant coach Andy Farrell is confident and he believes Barritt's "world-class" presence in midfield - opposite Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana - can underpin the red rose victory bid at the Stade de France.

"I've coached him for three years now (with Saracens and England) and I don't think I've seen any centre get the better of him," Farrell said.

"After three games, the biggest compliment you could give him is that it's as if he has been there for 30 games. He has almost become a cornerstone of a lot of things that we're about as a team. He is tireless in his work for the team and he is one of the reasons why this team fights for each other.

"The challenge will be there again this week. We will be up against big, powerful athletes and we won't wait for France to impose themselves. We are going over to France in a confident mood. We will try to be as aggressive as we've been in the last three games.

"Brad is very passionate in how he plays - you can see that. His defence is so good, I think he's world-class. I don't think I've seen a better defensive centre than Brad for a long, long time."

Barritt's introduction to Test rugby was at outside centre, where his defensive performance helped England to rearguard victories over Scotland and Italy.

Owen Farrell's move to fly-half has prompted Barritt's switch to inside centre, where England need him to work as a second playmaker with the ball in hand as well as destroyer in chief.

"He can distribute and he's got good feet," Farrell said. "Sometimes that gets overlooked because he's such a good defender. He will keep getting better and he thrives in pressure situations.

"As a world-class centre, you've got to have everything in your game. To me, Brad has a bit of everything and he will keep progressing because he has such a good attitude. He will become a force on the international scene. He was made to be an international - there's no doubt about that."


From Belfast Telegraph