England coach Stuart Lancaster says sorry to Gloucester Rugby's Billy Twelvetrees
STUART Lancaster apologised to Billy Twelvetrees this week – for two reasons, writes Nick Purewal.
Firstly, for not throwing him into battle in the second-half of England's 23-13 victory over France two weeks ago, and secondly, for not starting him against Italy tomorrow.
England boss Lancaster had hoped to pitch Gloucester centre Twelvetrees into the second-half against France, but the closeness of the finish swayed him away from it.
Then he had planned to start Twelvetrees at inside centre against the Italians, and move wrecking-ball Manu Tuilagi to the wing.
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But Owen Farrell's thigh injury has forced a half-back re-jig, and with Danny Care beating Ben Youngs to the nine shirt, Lancaster admitted he was loathe to make further changes to his backline.
Twelvetrees appreciates why Lancaster has stuck with 'trusted partnership' Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, but hopes to steal his chance from the bench as tomorrow's penultimate Six Nations clash evolves.
The 24-year-old playmaker said: "From my view it was frustrating not getting on the pitch against France.
"But from an external viewpoint I can see why they didn't do it.
"It was a very tight game and too many changes could have affected that.
"The result was the most important thing. Personal ambitions are vital, but at times you've got to set them aside. I'm just glad to get out there again, so fingers crossed.
"It's nice to be trusted, and to be considered as a potential starter if they try something different.
"I've played with Manu when he's played on the wing. He's a hugely powerful runner, there's few players in the Northern Hemisphere who can do what he does, and you've got to have him in the team somewhere.
"If England use him on the wing it's better for me, but Manu and Brad are a trusted combination in the centres now. So I've just got to stay patient, and snatch my chance whenever it comes.
"I can't hold back and just watch the show."
Twelvetrees linked up in action with Freddie Burns for the first time since Gloucester's London Irish defeat on January 5 in England training this week.
Now the former Leicester man is hoping to pair up with Burns in tomorrow's Italy clash.
He said: "That was great fun. I hadn't played with Fred since the London Irish game at New Year, which seems ridiculous.
"It's just nice to get alongside him again, get chatting in a game scenario again. It's good to play with the guys you know well, and hopefully we can reprise that on the field tomorrow.
"In those attacking-versus-defence sessions there's always a bit of spice, because it's a chance to make your point, prove your worth, and you want to be in the other guy's shirt.
"I know Toby Flood very well too who starts at fly-half tomorrow, I've been around him for a number of years when we were together at Leicester, he's a very controlled fly-half.
"I know what he does and what to expect from him, and I have good communication with him as well, which will be important if we have time together on the pitch.
"Now I just want to get the chance."