England rugby: In-form Brad Barritt relishing Test return

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Brad Barritt
"Playing for England for me is the ultimate," says Brad Barritt

Brad Barritt says he is playing some of the best rugby of his career as he prepares to return to the England side.

Barritt, normally an inside centre, has 18 caps but has not started for England since March 2013 and missed last year's autumn Tests because of a foot injury.

The Saracens player is set to play outside centre against the All Blacks at Twickenham this weekend.

"I've been in great form," the 28-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live. "It's great to be back in the England mix."

With injuries to Leicester's Manu Tuilagi and Northampton's Luther Burrell - the latter started each of England's 2014 Six Nations matches at outside centre - Barritt is set to move from the 12 to the 13 shirt.

"I'm very comfortable playing at 13," he said. "I'm happy to play wherever the team needs me. I'd be quite happy to play at tight-head prop if needed.

"Playing for England for me is the ultimate."

Andy Farrell (left) and Brad Barritt talk at England training
Barritt (right) was engrossed in conversation with England backs coach Andy Farrell at training last week

Bath's in-form playmaker Kyle Eastmond is favourite to start at inside centre if he recovers from a rib injury, and head coach Stuart Lancaster says both players are in the frame for selection.

"Brad has played and defended there [at outside-centre] more importantly, so clearly is someone we will consider," Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Kyle's form at Bath has demonstrated that he is playing well."

Barritt was a key man in the shock defeat of New Zealand two years ago, scoring England's first try in a 38-21 victory, one of only two losses the All Blacks have suffered since winning the World Cup in 2011.

"It was a fantastic day to break their big winning streak," Barritt added. "But it's a thing of the past now."

"We are all agreed that we are not the finished article and there is a lot more to come. This autumn is a huge pointer for us to make a statement."

World-record points scorer Dan Carter returned to the All Blacks side for the first time in a year following a leg injury as they thrashed the USA 74-6 in Chicago on Sunday.

It remains unclear what role Carter will play Twickenham, with New Zealand coach Ian Foster saying: "I think what we said early on with Dan is that we are keen to get him as much time as we can.

"How we go about that through this tour, whether it's this week or next week, I'm not sure. But we are keen to get him on as much as we can."

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