Lancaster agonised, but then promoted Twelvetrees along with Burns to full England squad
STUART Lancaster admitted he agonised over selecting Billy Twelvetrees ahead of Anthony Allen for his new-look England squad.
But the head coach said he wants to see what Gloucester playmaker Twelvetrees is made of in England’s upcoming Six Nations training camp.
Lancaster has promoted Gloucester’s midfield duo Freddie Burns and Twelvetrees to his England Elite Player squad, with former Kingsholm centre Allen missing out in that shake-up.
Gloucester number eight Ben Morgan has retained his place in the full England squad – but Charlie Sharples drops down to the second-string Saxons line-up.
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Matson-born 22-year-old tighthead prop Shaun Knight has won a first Saxons call-up, with Sharples and Jonny May both in England’s second string – but there is surprisingly no place for impressive back-five forward Tom Savage, despite his growing reputation.
Lancaster hinted early last month he would select Gloucester’s dangerous midfield duo of Burns and Twelvetrees in his new-look Elite Player Squad.
The Citizen reported on December 7 that he was ready to promote both Burns and Twelvetrees in tandem, off the back of their sparkling Premiership form with the Cherry and Whites.
And now the Gloucester pivot pairing have a chance to prove their international prowess when the England squad meet for their pre-Six Nations camp in a fortnight.
Lancaster explained: “It was a tight call between Billy Twelvetrees and Anthony Allen.
“But now we have a chance to see Billy close-up, work with him and see how that goes, and the only way to do that is in the training camp.
“We certainly feel that selection for the EPS is a starting point for these players, and now they have a chance to impress.”
Twelvetrees swapped Leicester for Gloucester in the summer, and the 24-year-old has thrived in his partnership with Burns, cementing the inside centre berth at the Kingsholm club.
Lancaster said the pair offer great foils for each other – and that has helped their progress no end.
Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall drops down to the Saxons to accommodate Burns as England have opted for three fly-halves in their full squad.
Lancaster said established fly-halves Toby Flood and Owen Farrell still hold high currency in his squad, while Saracens centre Brad Barritt is clearly in pole position in the 12 shirt in his eyes.
He continued: “Freddie and Billy both credit each other for their form.
“They have played well together, and give each other an extra level of support, they boost each other’s kicking game and add extra communication.
“Both players are coming into very competitive positions: Toby and Owen have a lot of credit in the bank and did very well in the autumn, and Brad Barritt has been exceptional.”
Sharples’ omission from the full squad is a surprise, but his chances have been limited lately – especially in his favoured right wing berth.
Saracens wing David Strettle has been recalled to the full squad in his place, after impressing in his switch to the left flank.
England’s left wing troubles have been widely documented – both full-back Mike Brown and Sharples operating there during the autumn series.
Lancaster said Wasps youngster Christian Wade is pushing Chris Ashton ‘very hard’ on the right wing – and that might mean Sharples faces a tough time of it to force his way into the reckoning in his natural role.
There is no place in the Saxons squad for either Henry Trinder or Rupert Harden, with both men suffering from injury lately.
ENGLAND ELITE PLAYER SQUAD: Calum Clark (Northampton) Alex Corbisiero (London Irish) Dan Cole, Tom Croft (both Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester); Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt (both Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester), Ben Foden (Northampton), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), David Strettle (Saracens), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester).
ENGLAND SAXONS: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Nathan Catt (Bath), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Paul Doran-Jones, Phil Dowson (both Northampton), Will Fraser (Saracens), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Graham Kitchener (Leicester), Shaun Knight (Gloucester), Matt Kvesic , Matt Mullan (both Worcester), David Paice (London Irish), Tom Palner (Wasps), George Robson (Harlequins), Ed Slater (Leicester), Henry Thomas (Sale), Billy Vunipola (Wasps); Nick Abendanon (Bath), Anthony Allen (Leicester), Tom Biggs (Bath), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), George Ford (Leicester), George Lowe (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Christian Wade (Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens).