Meehan - Olly for England

Bath coach backs his centre to play for England this summer

Last updated: 27th March 2010   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Meehan - Olly for England

Barkley: England claims

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Steve Meehan says that Olly Barkley should be given a chance with England this summer after an impressive return from injury.

Barkley has played in just four games this season after recovering from a broken leg in pre-season training, but his performances have been turning heads.

The 28-year-old centre scored a try, penalty and three conversions as Bath beat Harlequins 24-13 at the Recreation Ground, as the West Country side continued their late push for the play-offs.

Barkley was also instrumental in creating Joe Maddock's immaculately taken try straight from a lineout, and Bath head coach Meehan thinks that Martin Johnson should take him on England's summer tour to Australia.

"He's not in his prime yet and before the end of the season we'll start to see that," said Meehan. "I think he has a real chance, a very strong chance of making that trip."

Link-up

Meehan was also delighted with the way Barkley has renewed his partnership with South Africa fly-half Butch James.

"It's almost two seasons since they played together. They looked pretty good as a combination.

"He has a very accurate long pass, Olly, and good speed so he can get outside defenders and release outside attackers quite nicely.

"It was illustrated perfectly by Joe Maddock's try. That's just a brilliant bit of rugby. If anybody scores a better try than that this weekend, it will have to be an absolute screamer."

Quins down

Harlequins' new director of rugby, Conor O'Shea, was not too disheartened by his side's showing but admitted they had been their own worst enemies.

"Bath are a good side but at 24-6 down there are only two ways you can go," he said. "From one to 15 we stuck in there. I thought we might come away with something but definitely the best side won.

"Individual mistakes put us under pressure. We missed a few tackles, missed a few touches. We did get into their 22 on a number of occasions but coughed the ball up or got penalised.

"Any game is finely balanced. When we looked like getting on to the front foot, as when we pulled back to 10-6 at the start of the second half, we gave momentum back to them. We were taking a lot of knocks, a lot of injuries, but people kept fronting up."