Nigel Davies: Twelvetrees has been fantastic signing for Gloucester
BILLY Twelvetrees is the perfect inside centre for Gloucester – and maybe even England – believes Nigel Davies.
Gloucester rugby director Davies said England could do worse than consider 23-year-old playmaker Twelvetrees as they move forward with the Stuart Lancaster revolution.
Twelvetrees will start against former club Leicester Tigers this afternoon (kick-of 4.45pm) as Gloucester chase their fifth Premiership victory of the new season.
Impressed with Twelvetrees' start to life at Gloucester, Davies said he is already proving the ideal foil for fly-half Freddie Burns. Bryan Redpath and John Brain recruited Twelvetrees – but former Llanelli Scarlets boss Davies said while he will not claim any credit, he is happy to reap the benefits.
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He explained: "I've got a lot of time for Billy. I can't claim to have recruited him, but I think he's been a great signing for Gloucester.
"For me he's almost the perfect 12. He's got great distribution skills, he's massively physical and he's got a great kicking game.
"He's a fantastic guy to have in the squad, and when we talk about international players he could do a job internationally, he's an exceptional player.
"There's no one else quite like him from an England view in a 12 perspective.
"He's settled into things very quickly at Gloucester. He's improving all the time just like the team as a whole, but he knows naturally the right calls to make on the field, and he plays the game intelligently."
Expecting a colossal contest against perennial powers the Tigers today, Davies said the absence of the traditional openside flanker will make the clash even more brutal than ever.
Andy Hazell's 14-week ban for punching against Mont de Marsan means Gloucester field a wrecking-ball trio of Sione Kalamafoni, Akapusi Qera and Ben Morgan.
Leicester's openside issues are far starker as Julian Salvi is not fit to take part.
But Ben Woods and Craig Newby have both been forced to retire prematurely through injury this term.
That means the Tigers once again field Thomas Waldrom out of his natural position at seven, with Steve Mafi and Jordan Crane completing the Leicester loose forward trio.
Expecting a titanic tussle, Davies continued: "If you look at Andy's ban and the amount of opensides they are missing through injury and retirement, then it's pretty clear this isn't going to be a game for the feint-hearted.
"It's going to be two sets of big men colliding in combat, going at each other all day long.
"And in many ways, that's what games like this are all about.
"Today we've got two traditional rugby cities going head to head, as they have done plenty of times over the years – and it's the clubs trying to uphold the honour of the respective town.
"It's another exciting contest. We had the derby against Bath and that was a great atmosphere, but now we've got to raise our level again.
"We cannot afford to slip off the pace the way we did against Bordeaux, and we need that elusive 80-minute performance now."
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns, J Cowan, N Wood, H Edmonds, R Harden, T Savage, W James, S Kalamafoni, A Qera, B Morgan. Replacements: K Britton, D Murphy, S Knight, P Buxton, M Cox, D Robson, M Thomas, S Monahan.
LEICESTER TIGERS: G Murphy (capt), S Hamilton, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goneva, T Flood, B Youngs, L Mulipola, T Youngs, D Cole, L Deacon, G Parling, S Mafi, T Waldrom, J Crane. Replacements: G Chuter, M Ayerza, M Castrogiovanni, E Slater, G Kitchener, S Harrison, G Ford, M Smith.
â Tom Voyce has finally ended his rugby limbo – securing a deal with London Welsh.
The 31-year-old former Gloucester flyer slots straight into the Welsh line-up for Sunday's clash with old club London Wasps.
Welsh boss Lyn Jones has moved quickly to offset the injury loss of Tom Arscott.
Voyce has been on a two-week trial with the Premiership new boys.
And after one appearance in the A League the decorated finisher has sealed a full-time contract.
Voyce was deemed surplus to requirements at Gloucester last term, despite being ready to take a pay cut to stay at Kingsholm.