Olly Barkley will be England’s centre of attention when the world champions tackle a Six Nations salvage job against France at Twickenham on Sunday.
And Bath back Barkley, recalled for his first Test match start since last season’s Six Nations defeat in Paris, knows he is under pressure to deliver especially if he wants to secure a place on Sir Clive Woodward’s British & Irish Lions squad for the summer tour to New Zealand.
England head coach Andy Robinson has reacted to England’s 11-9 defeat against a Gavin Henson-inspired Wales by making five personnel changes and two positional switches for the French clash.
England’s chronic lack of a midfield kicking presence meant they could not establish a territorial foothold against at the Millennium Stadium, hence Barkley’s promotion from bench to starting line-up.
‘I think on the whole, we lacked rhythm and pattern. We seemed to be at sixes and sevens, and really lacked that cohesion a team needs to possess,’
said Barkley, whose second-half introduction in Cardiff was too little, too late.
‘From my point of view, I don’t think we played enough decent field position. I think the Welsh looked susceptible once they were on the back foot, and I was trying to push them deep into their 22.
‘That was one of the worst performances I have seen from an England side in a long time, just in terms of we lacked any rhythm or penetration. Any improvement from that, I think, will be easy to come by. What we saw against Wales wasn’t what we are about.
‘Rhythm will be very important for us on Sunday. We lacked it to a massive extent last weekend, but I am pretty confident we will get it back on Sunday.
‘I have been selected to come in and do a job. I know the pressure is on me to carry that forward, and I would rather have that pressure and be starting, than not,’ he added.