Twelvetrees handed England debut
January 31, 2013
England coach Stuart Lancaster announces his side to face Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday
Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees will make his England debut against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday.
Twelvetrees will fill the void left by an injury to Manu Tuilagi in one of two changes to the side that memorably accounted for world champions New Zealand in their last outing. Brad Barritt will move to the outside centre role he filled on his own Test debut in last year's Calcutta Cup win at Murrayfield, with Twelvetrees operating at No.12.
"This is a great opportunity for Billy," said England coach Stuart Lancaster, who is expected to have Tuilagi at his disposal for the clash with Ireland in Dublin on February 11. "I coached him in the Churchill Cup. It was a winning side, he played number 12 and I could see then he had lots of potential and physicality. Moving to Gloucester has been a big help. His confidence has shone through.
"I have every confidence in him going into the game. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in different ways. We know Manu is going to be fit for next week and we hope Billy puts a marker down this week and gives us another headache."
Harlequins prop Joe Marler gets the nod at loose-head ahead of Saracens' Mako Vunipola in the place of the injured Alex Corbisiero in the other change while Tom Youngs holds off the challenge of a fit-again Dylan Hartley at hooker.
Hartley, Toby Flood, the most experienced player in the 23-man squad with 53 caps, and David Strettle come on to the replacements' bench for David Paice, Freddie Burns and Jonathan Joseph respectively.
Lancaster was keen to reward the side that did so well against New Zealand but admitted there were some very tight calls. "Nine is the position I spend the most time thinking about," Lancaster said. "Ben Youngs gets the start this time and Dandy (Care) will come off the bench but both will get their turn during the Six Nations.
"It was a tight call there and at hooker. 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. It's not a given but Tom has been outstanding since the New Zealand game for Leicester both in the Premiership and in Europe."
Marler was preferred to Mako Vunipola at loose-head and he returns to the front row, having missed the last two matches through injury. "He was outstanding for us on the summer tour of South Africa," Lancaster said. "He went up against the most formidable pack in world rugby and more than held his own. His form for Harlequins has been excellent and that is a prerequisite to playing for England."
Lancaster has also dismissed the suggestion by former Scotland coach Jim Telfer that England were too arrogant'. "It might have been the case in the past but it is no resemblance to my team," said Lancaster, who set about changing the culture of the England camp when he first took charge a year ago.
"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. We are striving for that consistency and we have some way to go to achieve that."
England: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), M Brown (Harlequins); O Farrell (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester), J Marler (Harlequins), T Youngs (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), T Wood (Northampton), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Gloucester).
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), T Flood (Leicester), D Strettle (Saracens).
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