Connect to share and comment

RugbyU: Twelvetrees to make England debut against Scotland

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Uncapped Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees is set to make his England debut in the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday after being named in the starting XV.

Twelvetrees was one of two changes announced by coach Stuart Lancaster when he unveiled his run-on side on Thursday, with the midfielder replacing the injured Manu Tuilagi (ankle).

The only other change to the side that started England's record-breaking 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham last time out in December saw Joe Marler come in for Alex Corbisiero after his fellow tight-head prop was ruled out of the entire Six Nations with a knee problem.

Lancaster signalled Twelvetrees's inclusion when he retained him in his matchday 23 announced Tuesday and excluded London Irish's Jonathan Joseph.

Now the 24-year-old will partner Brad Barritt in England's midfield.

Tuilagi's pace and power saw him score one and help create two of England's three tries against New Zealand.

However, Twelvetrees has been in fine form for Gloucester this season after joining from Leicester, impressing with his handling game and all-round ball-playing skills.

"This is a great opportunity for Billy," Lancaster, speaking at England's training base in Bagshot, south-west of London, said Thursday.

"I coached him in the Churchill Cup," recalled Lancaster, previously in charge of England's reserve Saxons. "It was a winning side, he played number 12 and I could see then he had lots of potential and physicality.

"I have every confidence in him going into the game."

Elsewhere scrum-half Ben Youngs held off a challenge to his place from Danny Care and it was a similiar story for his brother, Tom Youngs, retained at hooker instead of Dylan Hartley.

"Nine (scrum-half) is the position I spend the most time thinking about," Lancaster said.

"Ben Youngs gets the start this time and Danny will come off the bench but both will get their turn during the Six Nations.

"It was a tight call there and at hooker," added Lancaster with Hartley, who has had a chequered disciplinary career, fit after missing the 2012 end-of-year Tests through injury.

"Tom played very well in the autumn. Dylan comes back into the equation but I need to reward the player who is in the shirt," Lancaster explained.

Interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson named his team Tuesday, with the most eye-catching pick the inclusion of uncapped New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland.

Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon in last season's Six Nations, are seeking a first win at Twickenham in 30 years.

England's players head into the latest edition of rugby's oldest international match facing a familiar charge of "arrogance", this time levelled against them by former Scotland coach Jim Telfer.

"It might have been the case in the past but it is no resemblance to my team," insisted Lancaster, whose down-to-earth approach helped England get back on track after their alcohol-fuelled exploits at a lacklustre 2011 World Cup.

"I am delighted with the progress we have made but I am disappointed not to have had that consistent run of wins. We beat New Zealand but we lost two other games in the autumn (to Australia and South Africa).

"We are striving for that consistency and we have some way to go to achieve that," he added.

England (15-1)

Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Wood; Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury; Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Joe Marler

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell, Danny Care, Toby Flood, David Strettle

jdg/ak

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130131/rugbyu-twelvetrees-make-england-debut-against-scotland