England primed for Welsh power

Barritt unfazed by size and weight disadvantage

Last Updated: 20/02/12 10:08pm

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England insist they will not be bullied by Wales' powerful back line in this weekend's RBS Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Wales will win the Triple Crown and take a big step towards winning the Six Nations if they manage to register only their second win at Twickenham since 1988 on Saturday.

They arrive in London with a powerful back line that is on average two inches taller and 26lb heavier than their English counterparts.

Welsh wings George North and Alex Cuthbert stand at 6ft 4in and 6ft 6in respectively and they will be out to cause England mayhem in one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the tournament.

England, though, have Samoa-born centre Manu Tuilagi available after he recovered from his recent injury problems, and in fellow centre Brad Barritt they have both a powerful and confident back who is willing to meet the challenge of the Welsh brawn head on.


"We have some big players ourselves so we are more than happy to match their physical threat," the South Africa-born centre said.

"They have some powerful runners, and it will ultimately be a physical challenge, but at the end of the day, they've only got two arms and two legs the same as us and we will put our bodies on the line out there."

Stuart Lancaster, who has overseen two marginal victories since taking over as interim head coach, is confident his men can deal with the physical threat posed by last year's World Cup semi-finalists.

He said: "They have some very talented and big physical players, but we have physical players of our own with the likes of Manu and Brad. They are pretty physical, powerful players too."

Lancaster gave little away about whether he will drop either Barritt or Owen Farrell to make way for Tuilagi after the controversial 20-year-old came through his second comeback game for Leicester unscathed on Sunday.

Dropping Barritt would be harsh given that he has impressed, particularly in the defensive aspect of his game, in his first two appearances for England, and it appears the more likely option for Lancaster will be to use Tuilagi as an impact substitute.

The Leicester centre will have two days' worth of training to impress Lancaster ahead of Thursday's team announcement but Barritt denies that he feels any more pressure due to Tuilagi's return.

He said: "If you have growing competition, it's a good sign for the team going forward.

"It inspires you as a player and it gets you to work harder. We are competitive beasts and that's what you want.

Common goal

"We are all working towards a common goal, which is making the team successful.

"There will be some disappointed guys on Saturday, but that's the nature of the beast. That's professional sport.

"The feedback I have been given has been good and that's always positive as a player but it's up to the coaches to decide who plays."

England have started life under Lancaster steadily, gaining a hard-fought victory at Murrayfield before coming from behind to beat Italy at a snowy Stadio Olimpico just over a week ago.

The former England Saxons coach knows this weekend's game will be tougher than anything he has experienced before in management, however.

The 42-year-old is hoping that a full house at Twickenham can help spur his new-look team on to victory.

"It will be a huge challenge," he said.

"It is the first time we have been at Twickenham and the first time for quite a few of the players to have played there so we hope that the English supporters will get behind us and we will definitely be giving it our all.

"As we found in Italy and in Scotland, it's a big challenge to play against a home side and that's why we are delighted to get the two wins we have got."

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