Gloucester Rugby: Full steam ahead for Billy Twelvetrees
NIGEL Davies is building the confidence that Gloucester's stars need to thrive at the Premiership's sharp-end, believes Billy Twelvetrees.
The accomplished 24-year-old has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Kingsholm until 2016.
The former Leicester Tiger is the first out-of-contract Gloucester star to recommit to the Cherry and Whites cause.
Twelvetrees admitted he has discussed the contract situation with the likes of Freddie Burns and Henry Trinder – others whose existing deals will expire this term – and he believes they are all ready to sign on for more too.
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Powerful playmaker Twelvetrees made the switch from Leicester for last season, craving regular first-team rugby.
Within months, he had won selection to Stuart Lancaster's full England squad, and ended last term by joining the British Lions tour to Australia.
Backing savvy rugby director Davies to keep ushering Gloucester in the right direction, Twelvetrees explained: "His influence is massively important.
"Nigel fosters a huge amount of self-belief within the squad, and a willingness to play a good brand of rugby that suits the players he's got.
"We practise week on week out there what we should be doing against different opposition, and he's very much about backing your own ability, trusting your own skills.
"He's very strict with us in training but wants the best out of us and he would always want us to go out there and play rugby rather than not.
"From that point of view, it suits the way I want to play the game and the boys around me, so it's an easy decision to stay, so I'm very happy.
"Obviously I knew my contract was up this year, Nigel said he wanted to keep me, so I said 'let's just get it sorted'.
"Gloucester's a great place to play, the supporters and the team have been great to me, so I just wanted to get it done and concentrate on the rugby.
"The whole ethos of the club makes you want to play for it.
"Running out at Kingsholm week on week is a pretty awesome feeling, the support really lifts us, and playing in a great side every week is what you want to do.
"Gloucester have given me the chance to develop my skills, showcase my talent and backed me to play.
"It's been terrific to do that and I just want to repay that faith now, carrying on this season and into the next two after that.
"I have spoken about contracts and things with guys like Freddie and Henry, to be honest.
"But beyond that it's got to be a personal decision and everyone respects that.
"I am very happy here though, and in general terms so is everyone else.
"It's a great club to be at moving forward, the Heineken Cup is important to a lot of the players, and our huge ambition is to get into the top four of the league."
Twelvetrees booted Gloucester to 26-24 victory over Northampton on Saturday, kick-starting the Cherry and Whites' season after two-straight defeats.
While he will target the 12 shirt for England in the autumn series, he said any time international action proves a club distraction he will fall off the Kingsholm pace.
He continued: "To look back it was a pretty good year – but you can't dwell on it, it's already long gone frankly.
"We got things kicked off at the weekend with the Northampton win though, and now the challenge is to put the first two weeks behind us.
"Having the England picture in the back of your mind keeps you on your toes.
"But you can't let it get the better of you: if you look too far beyond the weekend ahead you will end up shooting yourself in the foot.
"Those first two weeks are a prime example: no one will have been talking about us after those, and then we go and beat Northampton and that all changes again.
"So it would be stupid to look beyond the next game, because everything can switch around very quickly if you don't stay on top of your game.
"We're doing that in training, we're pretty honest with each other, there are some arguments there, but it's only healthy to be that focused on wanting to be better and better all the time."