The Sharks first-choice inside centre Bradley Barritt spoke to rugby365.com’s Nick Pawson about his pending move to Premiership club Saracens, and the implications it poses on his “international” career.
Standing at 186cm and weighing in at 95kg, the Sharks’ “midfield marshall” is currently playing out his last Currie Cup season in South Africa, before heading to the United Kingdom (UK) to join Eddie Jones’ Saracens on a three-year contract, as well as furthering his studies.
This is not Barritt’s first invite from abroad either, having been approached by Bath University in 2004 to study and play rugby, as well as being invited to an England Under-19 training camp.
The question now arises – with Barritt being eligible for England selection on the grounds of his UK ancestry – whether his move has been motivated by the prospect of earning international honours.
“My primary goal is to go and improve as player,” Barritt told rugby365.com in an exclusive interview.
“If the Springboks were to call me back I would certainly take the opportunity, I would cherish that day.
“Obviously I’ve got to go over there and play myself into the Saracens mould, and become part of their team.
“But if any opportunity [to play for England] arises, it’s also a possibility.”
Ironically, a former school-mate of his did just that. Matt Stevens, who also attended Kearsney College, moved to the UK in 2002 to pursue his studies abroad whilst playing rugby for Bath – which subsequently led to a national call-up, and a secured berth within the England squad since 2003.
Without being too presumptuous, Barritt’s abrasive presence in the midfield might be just what England are looking for – while his physical stature outweighs the likes of Jamie Noon, Toby Flood and even new England signing, Ricky Flutey.
More importantly, the 22-year-old Sharks centre has age on his side.
While some might see cash-laden overseas clubs disrupting the natural progression of South Africa’s young talent, as far as Springbok selection is concerned, players like Barritt merely see it as an opportunity to test themselves within a different rugby culture.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to go overseas and test myself,” Barritt said of his new venture with Saracens.
“I think the English league is packed with talent now, it’s a great spectacle in terms of judging yourself.”
The new Saracens coach – who played a key assistant role alongside Jake White during South Africa’s successful World Cup [RWC] campaign last year – might also be the perfect mentor for the young No.12, who holds the Australian in the highest regard.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him [Eddie Jones],” said Barritt.
“Speaking to the guys at the Sharks who were involved with the Springboks [at the 2007 RWC] said he had a huge impact, and his knowledge of the game is great.
“I’ll really enjoy playing under him so in that regard, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Nonetheless, Barritt’s primary focus for now was with his beloved home union, as the log-leading Sharks have put themselves in the best possible position to take Currie Cup honours in 2008.
“At the moment I’m 100 percent concentrated on the Sharks, and trying to win the Currie Cup.
“When that opportunity arises [playing at Saracens] I’ll be 100 percent into that, but at the moment my focus is definitely still here,” Barritt added.Tweet