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Barbeary faces acid test of credentials as England consider Six Nations squad

“I’m always of the opinion it doesn’t matter their age. If they’re good enough they’re good enough”

In-form Wasps flanker takes on European champions Toulouse today

Alfie Barbeary takes on the kings of Europe today aiming to show England he is ready for a Six Nations call.

The hooker-turned-flanker is 21 and injuries have restricted him to just 20 senior Wasps appearances.

Yet so highly rated is he that a year ago he was called up by Eddie Jones and this afternoon lines up against Toulouse with his club believing he is ready to feature in Tuesday’s England squad announcement.

“I’m always of the opinion it doesn’t matter their age,” said Wasps boss Lee Blackett. “If they’re good enough they’re good enough.

“Alfie comes up with big moments consistently and he is only going to get better. I would like to think he has done enough [to be selected].”

Last weekend Barbeary won the late turnover which condemned table toppers Leicester to their first loss of the season – 16 months on from marking his first Premiership start with a hat-trick against the same opposition.

Blackett: “Alfie comes up with big moments consistently and he is only going to get better”
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Wasps fans are in no doubt the club has a special talent on its hands, but Jones is not short of back row stardust and Barbeary could use a stand-out performance today against the reigning champions.

Lawrence Dallaglio, who led Wasps to their two European Cup triumphs, describes the youngster as a “fantastic” talent, adding: “He’s standing out in a very competitive environment”.

But three weeks to the day before England launch their campaign away to Scotland, the former Red Rose captain cautions burdening Barbeary with too much expectation.

Wasps director of rugby Lee Blackett
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Dallaglio said: “Performances like last weekend are going to catch the eye and at some point England have to take notice.

“Alfie’s definitely in the conversation to be part of that wider squad but he’s a long way from being the main speaker just yet.

“We don’t need to get ahead of ourselves in terms of him actually playing for England. There’s a few cabs a bit further ahead of him on the rank I’d say.”

Lawrence Dallaglio on punditry duty with Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Woodward
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England roamed unbeaten through the autumn with a back row of captain Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry. Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds also caught the eye off the bench

But Jones is putting together a squad as much with next year’s World Cup in France in mind as an unwelcoming February night in Edinburgh.

He doesn’t need telling that Barbeary’s ability on both sides of the ball is already considerable. The prospect of him with another year’s rugby under his belt is an appealing one.

Toulouse’s world player of the year Antoine Dupont misses today’s game through injury, but long-term absentee Paolo Odogwu and Jacob Umaga return for Wasps.


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