Barnes backs Twelvetrees' England call-up

Former Test fly-half Stuart Barnes hailed coach Stuart Lancaster's "fascinating selection" of Billy Twelvetrees after the Gloucester centre was called up into England's Six Nations squad on Wednesday.

Billy Twelvetrees (R), then of Leicester, is tackled by Perpignan's Ovidiu Tonita during the European Cup Pool 5 match at Welford Road in Leicester, England, on December 19, 2010. England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Wednesday included uncapped pair Twelvetrees and Calum Clark in his 33-man squad for the Six Nations, which starts on February 2.

Twelvetrees, along with Northampton flanker Calum Clark, was one of just two uncapped players included in Lancaster's 33-man squad for European rugby union's showpiece international tournament, which starts next month.

The 24-year-old, well-known for his handling game, has formed an effective partnership at club level with fly-half Freddie Burns.

Although Twelvetrees is unlikely to force his way into the starting line-up for England's Six Nations opener at home to Scotland on February 2, given their last match was a record-breaking 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in December, Barnes believes his inclusion is significant.

"Twelvetrees is the key selection for me; I don't think he will be starting against Scotland, but the key thing for me is what it tells us about this regime," Barnes told Sky Sports.

"Twelvetrees has a lovely pass of left and right, he can kick and he can carry; he is a fascinating selection."

Barnes, renowned as a running fly-half, won only 10 England caps in a nine-year Test career with the selectors generally opting for Rob Andrew, more of a 'kicking' No 10 during a period where the emphasis was on a forward-orientated game.

More recently, concerns have been expressed about the current side's lack of midfield creativity although these were stilled after England rounded off 2012 with a stunning defeat of the All Blacks.

Barnes, however, believes former Leicester midfielder Twelvetrees can bolster England's attack.

"Twelvetrees has played some outstanding games for Gloucester but also some indifferent ones, but he is a passing 12.

"I remember talking to Lancaster at Bath when he took over this England job and he said he wanted a 12 who could distribute the ball; England have beaten the All Blacks but they have not got that 12 yet.

"Twelvetrees has that capacity. He has a lovely pass of left and right, he can kick and he can carry. He is a guy who can change the way England play."

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Writer: AFP
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