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What Wasps have made of Alfie Barbeary not getting an England cap

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Wasps boss Lee Blackett has reported that Alfie Barbeary has returned to the fold at the Gallagher Premiership club feeling “really positive” despite remaining uncapped with England across the recent Guinness Six Nations campaign. The 21-year-old was one of six uncapped players named in the original 36-strong squad named for the tournament on January 18. 

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The back-rower went on to be named in all five match week England squads as well as the squads for the fallow week training camps in London and Bristol, but it was to no avail as his debut cap at Test level still proved to be elusive.  

Barbeary kept himself ticking over by being selected by Wasps for three of their February games in the Gallagher Premiership, starting against Exeter and coming off the bench against Bath and Bristol despite beginning each of those weeks at England training. 

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However, his 36 minutes off the Wasps bench on February 25 was his last match action as he was retained as cover by England for their rounds four and five matches and it has left Barbeary looking to play his first game in four weeks when his club hosts Newcastle on Saturday in Coventry.  

Asked what he made of the commitment Barbeary had shown to England only to wind up without a debut Test appearance, Wasps boss Blackett said: “He has gone there and has proven things to people within the camp and proven things to himself to show that he is at that level and now he has got to wait patiently for his opportunity. 

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“Alfie is someone that likes to play. If you had told me before he would spend the whole time in the camp and didn’t get a game I’d be a bit worried about it because he can easily be frustrated. Actually, he has come back really positive. He has learned loads of things, he is a great condition coming back. He has obviously been a bit back-and-to but he has spent the majority of the time there and being in camp as well on and off the field has been good for him.”

But does not playing in so long suit? “Look, ideally he’d be playing but just in terms of how he is, the condition he is in, no I have not got any concerns.”

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There were calls during the tournament from the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio for Barbeary to be upgraded by Eddie Jones and given a debut as England seemed to be lacking in the ball-carrying department, but one Wasps player who did earn an England cap during the Six Nations was veteran Joe Launchbury. The soon-to-be 31-year-old fought his way back into Test squad contention after recovering from last April’s serious ACL injury and he played 13 minutes off the England bench versus Ireland and, like Barbeary, was in Paris last week as an additional player outside the matchday 22.    

“He would be pretty proud of himself the way he has come back,” reckoned Blackett about Launchbury and England. “Most of the time he will never admit it but really I know for a fact he will be really proud of how quickly they called him back into the squad and what they think of him. 

“He will be disappointed not to have played last weekend, as you would expect, but he is an ultimate team man. He would have got on with it and he has come back in desperate to get himself back on the field and we can’t wait to play this weekend for us.” 

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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