Lancaster: “Concept of inside/outside centre is inaccurate in modern game”

brad barritt

Speaking at this morning’s RBS 6 Nations launch in London, England head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted that who would fill the 13 shirt in a week and a half’s time at the Stade de France was a bit of a dilemma. And he went on to say that the fact that England had four recognised ’12s’ in the squad was not that relevant, given the way the modern centre has to play.

“This concept of ‘inside/outside centre’ is slightly inaccurate for how the modern game is played,” he said. “A guy to get you across the gainline and a ball-player, in your centres, is quite a good combination to have. Whether it was Luther (Burrell) and Billy (Twelvetrees), or Kyle (Eastmond) and Brad (Barritt), or whichever, I think that works.”

The return of Barritt is a boost for Lancaster, whose options in the centres have been wearing increasingly thin as a result of a horrific injury list.

“We’ve got four centres training in camp at the moment: Billy Twelvetrees, Kyle, Luther and Brad’s back – that was the first time he’d trained with us since March last year, because he didn’t come on the summer tour.

“In terms of the 13s, (Henry) Trinder’s injured, Joel Tomkins is injured, Jonathan Joseph is now injured, so looking at the centre combination and how it’ll unfold with Manu being injured as well, it’s good that we’ve got Brad Barritt back in the equation, and as part of selection going into the French game we’ll decide which is the best combination to go with.”

The other option at 13 would appear to be Northampton’s Luther Burrell, who has been enjoying a fruitful season for the Saints, and a man who has been known by Lancaster for quite some time.

“We’re keeping our options open at the moment, but the good thing about Luther is that he came to Argentina, he was involved in the QBEs (although he didn’t play) and he’s someone I’ve known for a long time. He has defended at 13, too.”

Elsewhere in the squad, Lancaster confirmed that Danny Care will return to training tomorrow and will be available for the France game, while there were mixed reports for the rest of the injured England contingent.

“Danny Care’s hopefully going to train tomorrow,” confirmed the head coach. “Other than that, we came through the European weekend pretty well. We had 33 lads training yesterday, out of 35 – we gave Dan Cole a rest because his neck was sore, but he’ll be fine.

“In the medium term, Ben Foden and Marland Yarde are making good progress, and they should be [back] February time, in terms of return to club rugby, and then obviously beyond there you’ve got Christian Wade, Alex Corbisiero, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft and Manu (Tuilagi).

“Manu’s making good progress, so I think he’s probably next in line, but again that’ll be depending on where Leicester see him – they want to make sure he’s right if he plays.”

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

9 thoughts on “Lancaster: “Concept of inside/outside centre is inaccurate in modern game”

  1. Pretty sure I’ve made that exact point about the centres on here several times – good to see that SL has been reading what I have to say!

    On a serious note, it is exactly right. I am hoping to see 12Ts and Burrell together, but expecting to see Barritt involved at some point, which I don’t mind too much to be honest.

  2. He’s right, simply because teams use those positions differently. England and Bath, for instance, have their playmaker at 12 and bosher at 13 (think 36/Manu and Eastmond/Joseph), whereas a fair few other teams do it the other way round (e.g. Nonu/Smith for NZ or Roberts/Davies for Wales).

    As such, just because England play someone at 12 when they play 13 for their club, it doesn’t strictly mean it’s wrong.

  3. Seems like Lancaster has disregarded may as an option at 13. Unless this is deliberate it seems burrell or barritt will fill that role. I would love to see eastmond at 12 and burrell at 13, I think they would add a real dimension to England’s game

  4. And players will interchange within a game, Tuilagi runs a lot of 12 lines, especially attacking first phase off lineout.

    Main point I would disagree with Lancaster on is seeing Barritt as a player who gets you over the gain line. He willingly trucks the ball up and will take it into contact all day at the gainline, but doesn’t really have the power to breach it too often.

    1. I agree. He’s not a playmaker, and isn’t an effective bosher (plus he’s not all that quick). He’s in the squad for his defence, which is a pretty negative reason.

      1. As well as being a negative reason I’m not convinced it’s a necessary reason. Considered ‘undroppable’ because of his defence, but when he’s not been available through injury the defensive systems have held up just fine.

  5. I think your both right for me now is the time to go with different options over barritt, even with the current injury situation. He doesn’t really add to the attack and causes us to play slowly through the centre.

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