South African-born Saracens midfielder Brad Barritt expects the new-look England to play a "free-flowing" game in the Six Nations under the watchful eye of interim coach Stuart Lancaster.
Barritt has played under Lancaster for the England Saxons and has also worked closely with England's backline coach Andy Farrell at Saracens, so he is well placed to comment on what sort of impact the caretaker coaches will have in the upcoming Six Nations.
The hard-hitting centre first made his name playing for the Sharks, and left Durban after winning the 2008 Currie Cup without earning higher honours than a place in the Emerging Boks side, but on Wednesday his career finally took the next step when he was named in England's senior squad for the first time.
It is an opportunity that he is visibly excited about, and one that some would say is long overdue for one of the most consistent midfield performers around.
He told this website in an exclusive interview: "I'm obviously excited about the opportunity that is ahead, being involved in the Six Nations, a tournament that is steeped in tradition, will be a huge honour."
Barritt has every confidence that Lancaster and Farrell will breathe new life into England's game and lead them into a new era.
"Both of them are very astute coaches and they are very good with the team dynamic, both have great technical ability so the team are in great hands.
"Knowing both coaches they do like the free-flowing game so you can expect England to play to their strengths and show that we have more than one string to our bow," he explained.
Lancaster and Farrell won't be the only faces familiar to Barritt in the England set-up, with a number of Saracens players getting an opportunity to prove that they have what it takes to make it at the highest level.
He commented: "It is hugely exciting for Saracens, I think it is the first time we have had a big representative bunch and it just shows how far we have come as a squad in the last two and a half years, to have both Owen [Farrell] and Charlie [Hodgson], Matt Stevens and Mauritz Botha, David Strettle and myself is great.
"It puts Sarries in that England shop window and that is what we have been striving to do. We have been in the Premiership final for the last two years, we have started well again this year and this weekend we have a huge game which could put us in the quarterfinals of the Heineken Cup so you would like to think that it is just reward for consistency," added Barritt.
By making 15 changes to the senior squad Lancaster has signalled his intent to overhaul the England team, and the prospect of starting on a completely fresh page is something that Barritt is very excited about.
"I think it is a huge opportunity for both players and management to strike up a good relationship and put England's best foot forward. We can only do that by having a great showing in the Six Nations so there will be a great buzz amongst the squad.
"I think that is what happens usually after most World Cups, new guys come in who are hungry and really want to represent the jersey. That is what it is about for me, it is a huge honour to play international rugby and to be involved with England," he enthused.
A strong aspect of Barritt's game is his versatility, with the proven ability to play both inside and outside centre as well as at flyhalf, and although he will play in any position as long as he has a red rose on his chest, he believes that his best rugby is produced the No.12 jersey
"I am happy if I am given an opportunity anywhere, I would play tighthead prop for England, but I would probably say that inside centre is my strongest position.
"I have played a bit now at 13 in the last couple of years - attacking at 12 and defending at 13 - so wherever the team needs me, even if that is at flyhalf I will happily cover all three positions," he said.
By Michael de Vries
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