Billy Twelvetrees all set for Irish siege to repay England coach Stuart Lancaster's faith
BILLY Twelvetrees is ready to repay Stuart Lancaster’s faith in Dublin – by whatever means necessary.
The Gloucester centre is famed for his all-round abilities, but on his debut against Scotland last week there was no need whatsoever to employ his prodigious siege-gun boot.
England forced so much front-foot ball in their 38-18 Twickenham victory that 24-year-old Twelvetrees and fly-half Owen Farrell ran almost everything.
Twelvetrees himself did not need to lace boot through ball at all.
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At the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm), the Sussex-born playmaker expects no such luxury.
England boss Lancaster resisted the temptation to start fit-again Manu Tuilagi from the off against Ireland in round two of this year's Six Nations prize fights.
Leicester’s exocet will instead be launched from the bench in the second-half.
Cherry and Whites centre Twelvetrees knows the size of Lancaster’s endorsement, to pair him with defensive lynchpin Brad Barritt once again.
The tree surgeon’s son explained: “Stuart has shown in the past that if guys have come in and played well then he has kept faith in them, so I appreciated that from him.
“He told me I played well and I worked well with Owen and Brad, and that I deserved another chance off the back of that.
“And I appreciate that massively, and what that show of faith means.
“It means I’ve got to deliver and hopefully I’m ready to do that.
“I’m excited by the challenge, but I also know it’s one of the toughest tests around.
“It was zero kicks last weekend.
“I’m always happy to provide that outlet, you play to the circumstances in the game.
“Last weekend the forwards did so well that there was always an attacking opportunity for us.
“I don’t think Owen kicked that much either to be honest, because we created so many good positions.”
His try and composure in comprehensive 38-18 Scotland victory compounded a superlative debut.
Any repeat in Dublin will be touted at far greater cost – and Twelvetrees is well aware.
He continued: “It was nice just to get my hands on the ball against Scotland – but this weekend when required I am more than happy to take responsibility for kicking.
“That’s something I’d really look forward to, and I imagine I’ll get that chance.
“They are such a physical side and there’s no room for naivety about that: unless we’re completely clued-up on that, we’ll be punished.”
Lancaster is happy to field any centre combination of Twelvetrees, Tuilagi and Barritt.
For his part Twelvetrees believes England will be robust whatever the shift.
Almost to illustrate the point, as Twelvetrees sung Tuilagi’s praises, the brutal line-breaker sauntered past in the background, sharing a chuckle with his former Leicester team-mate.
Talk about timing your run.
Twelvetrees added: “I’m very comfortable playing with Manu, I played with him quite a lot of times at Leicester.
“I grew up with him there, so I know how he plays the game and what he brings.
“But things are coming together well with Brad and Owen as well.”