Thursday 24 May 2018

Wasps flyer Christian Wade and Brad Barritt called up by the Lions

England's Christian Wade
England's Christian Wade

England duo Christian Wade and Brad Barritt have been called up to reinforce the injury-hit British and Irish Lions squad in Australia.

Wade's summons came just hours before he was due to win his second England cap and he was withdrawn from the team, with Jonny May given his debut against Argentina.

With Jamie Roberts becoming the latest injury concern, the Lions then announced Barritt, who was rested from England's summer tour of South America, will fly from the United States this evening and link up with the squad in Sydney on Monday before they travel to Canberra.

Roberts suffered a leg injury against the New South Wales Waratahs today and the Lions also have concerns over wings George North and, it is rumoured, Alex Cuthbert.

Wade, who made his England debut in last weekend's 32-3 victory over Argentina in Salta, has been preferred to Chris Ashton and Scotland's Tim Visser to provide the Lions with additional back-line options.

The 22-year-old scored 18 tries in 26 appearances for Wasps last season and won a unique double at the Rugby Players' Association awards, winning both the players' player and the young player awards.

"My reaction is definitely one of massive shock," Wade said before heading off to the airport in Buenos Aires.

"I never thought I'd be called up to go but I'm massively delighted and honoured to be selected.

"It's all coming flooding over me. It's happened so fast in the last few weeks - the awards, playing at Twickenham, winning my first cap for England in Argentina and then getting the call for the Lions.

"Some of the stuff I wouldn't have dared to dream of.

"It's hard to take in but I need to step back and be humble and appreciate the work and effort that everyone's put into helping me, my support network, my family, the coaches at Wasps and here at England who have put that faith in me and the Lions coaches also for calling me up."

Wade is the third England player to be called up from England's tour of South America, following Alex Corbisiero and Billy Twelvetrees on the route from Buenos Aires, via Santiago and Auckland, to Australia.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said: "We're delighted for Christian.

"He's been in excellent form, played really well on his Test debut against Argentina last weekend and he goes with the best wishes of all the England players and management.

"Jonny May comes into the side to win his first cap against the Pumas today. He's been an important part of our squad over the last four weeks, he's up to speed with everything we're doing and this is a great opportunity for him."

Wade will arrive in Australia on Monday, the day before the Lions play the ACT Brumbies in the final match before the first Test.

"There's a game Tuesday night but I'm not sure whether I'll be involved," Wade said.

"I'm happy to be going and just looking forward to going out and gain as much experience as possible. If I can get some game time I hope to go out and do my thing.

"In the sport we play there are always opportunities. You can probably go from fifth choice to first choice.

"You've just always got to be prepared. I've always said that opportunities don't come round very often, you've got to take them with both hands.

"If I did get the opportunity to play in a midweek game or a Test I'd have to take that with both hands and make the most of it."

Press Association

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