Brad Shields reckons ‘bruiser’ Alfie Barbeary firmly in England Six Nations mix

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Alfie Barbeary has played his way into contention for a place in England’s Six Nations squad to the point that he is already being targeted by opponents, according to Wasps team-mate Brad Shields.

The uncapped Barbeary delivered a man-of-the-match performance in Saturday’s gripping Heineken Champions Cup victory over Toulouse that included the pivotal final-quarter try at the CBS Arena.

Eddie Jones names his squad for the Championship on Tuesday morning and the 21-year-old back row, who can also play hooker, has hit blockbusting form after overcoming a run of significant injuries.

Shields believes England will have been monitoring his progress carefully, while noting that he is no longer able to stay under the radar on the field.

“They’ll have a whole two eyes on him!” Shields said. “He’s been class. He’s come up with a couple of key turnovers in the last two weeks that have really changed the game.

“He’s a bruiser. He carries the ball hard and makes big shots in defence. The thing about young fellas these days is that they are a bit of hybrid.

“He has got some unreal skill, the way he offloads, the way he plays through contact and keeps his feet alive in contact. That’s pretty special.

Experienced back row Brad Shields says Alfie Barbeary has a big future
Experienced back row Brad Shields says Alfie Barbeary has a big future (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He had a magnet on his head against Toulouse, he seemed to get hit a lot. The reality of rugby is that if you are a good player then teams will start to target you. He is expecting that.

“The way he alters his game means he can keep standing up for the rest of the boys.

“If you look at Manu Tuilagi, he is one of the best ball-carriers in the world because he keeps adapting his game to keep the defence guessing. That’s what Alfie is doing.

“He has been class for us and for a young fella he wants to express himself. If we can control his game and get him moving in the right direction, giving him opportunities, then that will be a good sign.”

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