Lancaster keeps faith in Twelvetrees as Burrell waits in wings

Stuart LancasterStuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster will give out-of-form centre Billy Twelvetrees another chance to impress despite his shortcomings in England’s opening Autumn Internationals win over Australia.

Huddersfield-born Luther Burrell is straining at the leash for a first England cap after another impressive display for Northampton Saints on Sunday increased the pressure on Lancaster to make a switch.

Burrell has been the form centre in the Premiership and demonstrated his defensive prowess with some big hitting against London Irish. The 25-year-old former Leeds Carnegie player offers added bulk at the position and would almost certainly have not allowed Matt Toomua to steamroll over him for the Wallabies try on Saturday, as Twelvetrees did.

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But Lancaster looks set to stick with the Gloucester centre for the visit of Argentina on Saturday.

Billy is disappointed with one or two areas of his game, but a lot of areas were pretty good. We have to give him credit for that,” said Lancaster.

“We’ll make the decision over the next 24-48 hours, but I’m not envisaging too many changes.

“There is definitely scope to make changes. Luther Burrell and Kyle Eastmond are obvious inside centre options and Henry Trinder is an outside centre option.

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“But Billy’s done pretty well for us and deserves another chance I think.”

Debutant Joel Tomkins also endured a mixed afternoon as both centres failed to jolt a disjointed backline into life.

Lancaster is reluctant to judge the duo solely on their performance against Australia, but accepts there is work to be done in the combination.

“They didn’t have a huge amount of opportunities,” he said. “I know Billy’s a bit disappointed about missing his tackle, but overall he had a solid game.

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“Joel did well in his first international. There’s definitely more in us and we feel we can improve in that area, but overall it’s pretty positive.”

Alex Corbisiero is set to return against Argentina after recovering from a knee injury, despite Mako Vunipola’s role in helping the scrum dominate the Wallabies.

And Stockton-born Geoff Parling has been cleared for action after a concussion ruled him out of the opening game of the series. He will put pressure on locks Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury.

On paper, Argentina are England’s weakest opponents of the autumn but Lancaster cautioned: “We found them pretty difficult to break down in the summer.

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“Their performances in the Rugby Championship have shown that on their day they can push the top two or three teams in the world very close.

“We’ll take them on merit and give them the credit they deserve as a proud rugby playing nation.

“We won’t concentrate on Argentina until the end of the week.”