Meehan puzzled by Barkley’s omission

Bath boss Steve Meehan has expressed his surprise at Olly Barkley's continued exclusion from Six Nations duty with England. [more]

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Bath boss Steve Meehan has expressed his surprise at Olly Barkley’s continued exclusion from Six Nations duty with England.

While in-form Gloucester wing James Simpson-Daniel has been rewarded with a training squad call-up, Barkley remains on the outside despite steering Bath to a first victory on Bristol soil since 1998 on Sunday.

Simpson-Daniel reported for duty on Sunday night as part of a 31-man group preparing in Bath ahead of next Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The 25-year-old’s presence will fuel speculation about a role for him in Edinburgh, where England need a victory to keep alive their Six Nations title hopes.

Simpson-Daniel won the last of his 10 caps on tour in South Africa last summer, scoring a try off the bench during England’s first Test defeat in Bloemfontein.

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Barkley though, excluded from the Six Nations equation in January due to an ongoing court case, continues to be overlooked.

Meehan said: "I was surprised Olly wasn’t named in the international squad right from the off, but those are decisions for the England management.

"If it was down to me, I would have picked him.

"I have expressed my views to Brian (England head coach Brian Ashton).

"If I was in his position, it wouldn’t be the only spot I would change, but he is doing quite well.

"Olly has kept delivering for us – his performances have not dropped off at any stage."
Barkley’s contribution – a 14-point haul – helped Bath see off west country rivals Bristol 19-9 at Ashton Gate and consolidate third spot, three points behind leaders Gloucester with a game in hand.

Barkley will join Gloucester this summer, but clearly not before doing his utmost to help Bath chase a first league title since 1996.

Reacting to his England call-up, Simpson-Daniel said: "It is a bit strange considering I’m on a bit of a rugby hangover after our result against Harlequins on Saturday.

"But obviously, getting an opportunity to be involved with the national squad is fantastic.

"I know I just have to knuckle down in the next few days and just do the best I can, which is what I have been doing for Gloucester."

Bristol head coach Richard Hill, meanwhile, hailed Bath as "the best team in the country" after a game his team were fortunate to lose by only 10 points.

Hill said: "Bath won the vast majority of territory and possession – they were the better side right from the kick-off.

"The physicality of the Bath forwards was impressive. They were difficult to stop, and they have got some big men who got in behind us."

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