Stuart Barnes says inclusion of Billy Twelvetrees in Elite Players Squad bodes well for England's future
Last Updated: 09/01/13 10:36pm
Twelvetrees: England's answer at centre?
Stuart Barnes told Sky Sports News he is "delighted" that Billy Twelvetrees has been named in England's squad for the Six Nations.
Gloucester centre Twelvetrees is one of two uncapped players, alongside Northampton flanker Calum Clark, to have been promoted from the Saxons squad, with England boss Stuart Lancaster making seven changes to the party that beat New Zealand in December.
Twelvetrees has forged an effective club partnership with Freddie Burns, one of three fly-halves in the squad, and Sky Sports pundit Barnes reckons he could be the long-term answer to England's centre problems.
"I am delighted that both Burns and Twelvetrees are in the squad," said Barnes.
"Twelvetrees is they 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.
"Twelvetrees has a lovely pass of left and right, he can kick and he can carry; he is a fascinating selection."
"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 can change the way England play; he is a fascinating selection."
"The former England fly-half added: "Burns is suffering a little bit from the reaction for his cameo against the All Blacks and all the hooha about his performance, but I like the fact that he is there.
"Lancaster understands that if he has Owen Farrell there, who plays a very Saracens sort of way and plays the percentages very well - then he also needs a different sort of player. Burns is that player; the night to Farrell's day."
However, Barnes questioned the inclusion of Saracens winger David Strettle, and believes that Ben Foden is the man who should be wearing the No.11 jersey.
"I think Mike Brown did a great job playing on the left in the Autumn Internationals," added the ex-Bath star. "He is not an out-and-out finisher but it is also about brains.
"If you are looking at finishing power then I would say Foden - who I cannot see starting at fullback - is a better finisher than Strettle, who is playing well but does not have a great Test match record.
"You go back to the first Test against South Africa last summer; Foden had that one chance five metres out and he burnt into the corner.
"He is quick, he is physical and he is a finisher, and I would like to see him in there as I am not certain that Strettle offers England a great deal in the long run."
Barnes also concerns over Leicester flanker Tom Croft, who he feels has not had enough game time after being sidelined for nine months with a broken neck
"Croft is fantastic player but he has not played enough rugby," added Barnes. I don't think he has the body of games in the last year to really contend.
"He played 50 minutes against Worcester last week but you cannot really consider him until he is playing week in, week out and we know that he is 100 per cent."