Barkley dismisses first-Test hopes

Disappointed Olly Barkley broke from the party line today and revealed he has no chance of forcing his way into England's Test team for Saturday's Cook Cup showdown with Australia.

England manager Martin Johnson has insisted from the outset of this five-match Antipodean tour that Test selection is wide open and that every member of the 44-man squad has an equal chance.



But Barkley goes into tomorrow's clash with the Australian Barbarians in the knowledge that Shontayne Hape has already been lined up to start against the Wallabies at inside centre.



Barkley's focus now is on continuing the sparkling form he showed for Bath in the closing weeks of the season and giving Johnson no option but to include him for the second Test in Sydney.



"The Test team is the one you all want to be in and I'm not going to lie, I'm disappointed not to be in the side," said Barkley.



"The Test side is organised for Saturday and to play two games of Test match intensity from Tuesday to Saturday is not overly realistic at this stage of the season.



"The selection was made four or five days ago so I had a while to get my head around it.



"I'm not one to dwell on what's not going to be so I'll be doing everything tomorrow night to stake a claim for a place in the second Test.



"It's a long tour, a week's a long time in sport so we'll see what happens."



Barkley's return to form and fitness after Christmas led directly to Hape being squeezed out of the Bath side but he is not surprised at Johnson's desire to cast his eye over the former New Zealand rugby league international in a Test environment.



"Shontayne has been involved in a few squads for the last six months now and he was due to play a large role for the Six Nations had he not got ill," said Barkley.



"I had an inkling they would want to see what he is capable of at Test level and he deserves his shot. He's played very well at Bath when he has played.



"I'm still disappointed but he gets my full support. He's a great bloke and a very talented guy."



A Test midfield of Hape and Mike Tindall would appear a great deal less potent than England's centre pairing tomorrow night of Barkley and Mathew Tait.



England's shadow side also includes Charlie Hodgson at fly-half while recent Test regulars Delon Armitage and Ugo Monye feature in the back three.



Armitage is relishing the chance to play with Hodgson and Barkley in the hope their attacking qualities will help him rediscover the form and confidence that abandoned him during the Six Nations.



The London Irish full-back partly blames the loss of his natural attacking zest on the welter of safety-first instructions issued by the England management through the tournament.



Armitage eventually lost his place to Ben Foden for the final match against France, when England changed to a more adventurous approach and almost snatched victory in Paris.



England want to use that performance in Paris as the benchmark for their tour performances, which suits Armitage down to the ground.



"The Six Nations was very disappointing for me. I went away from how I like to play rugby. I became a bit of a robot," said Armitage.



"I would be kicking the ball senselessly at times and in my head, it was kind of what I was getting back from the coaches: 'Don't get turned over in our half, don't do this'.



"In my head I just thought: 'I can't get turned over so I am going to kick this ball 60 metres down the field' whereas before I would have taken that risk.



"When I was flying and full of confidence, I would have had a go from anywhere.



"But I would see a couple of guys getting turned over in our half and the coaches were saying: 'We don't want to see that'.



"For me, this trip is about getting back to doing the basics right, getting some confidence back and just playing well.



"I want to have a go and do what I do best - counter-attack and take people on one-on-one. I want to do the best I can in this game and hopefully get in that Test team.



"In the Six Nations I probably touched the ball three times when we were running in the back line. Charlie and Olly are brilliant and they have great vision.



"We are going to have a go. Obviously we want to win but we want to have a go as well. We are not going to get into this Test team by kicking the ball away, watching Australia play and defending."



Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw will captain England at the ME Bank Stadium and he is joined in the pack by four uncapped players - Dave Attwood, Geoff Parling, Hendrie Fourie and Dan Ward-Smith.



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss