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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)

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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.”

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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.”

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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