Billy Twelvetrees tells Sky Sports rugby union writer Tony Curtis how his move to Gloucester has helped his England ambitions
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 26/01/13 10:12am
When Billy Twelvetrees announced 12 months ago that he would leave perennial title challengers Leicester for Gloucester, it raised more than a few eyebrows.
The Tigers were en route to their eighth successive Premiership final, while Gloucester had struggled to fulfil the massive potential at Kingsholm.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill even criticised the academy graduate for rejecting a lucrative six-figure contract to stay at Welford Road.
For Twelvetrees, though, the move was about more than money and trophies - it was about the chance to play regular first-team rugby.
Despite his undoubted talent in both the fly-half and No 12 shirts, Twelvetrees managed just 23 Premiership starts during three seasons at the Tigers.
It has been a completely different scenario at Gloucester, though, with Twelvetrees playing every minute of the club's Premiership campaign to date.
As if to highlight he made the right decision in moving, that has regular run of games - coupled with some impressive form, including against the Tigers in a 27-21 victory - has seen Twelvetrees elevated into England's elite playing squad for the RBS Six Nations.
And Twelvetrees believes his summer switch has been crucial in him making the step up.
"Playing week in, week out in the Premiership has really enabled me to have confidence within myself," he said.
"I always had confidence as a youngster and believed that I could be here and do it but it was just about getting that game time on the park from playing week in, week out.
"Playing week in, week out in the Premiership has really enabled me to have confidence within myself."
"Playing alongside quality players and against quality opposition means that you are always going to test yourself.
"The more I've played then the more confidence I have had in my game and the more that I have progressed.
"The Gloucester coaches have also given me a lot of belief in myself, they are very much 'go out there and express yourself'."
Having earned his place in the England set-up is not enough for Twelvetrees - who has previously impressed for the Saxons - though.
He now has his sights on winning a first cap - with fitness fears over Freddie Burns and Manu Tuilagi, as well as his versatility, increasing his chances of being involved in the championship opener against Scotland.
"When they name the squad it gives you that belief because they have obviously been looking at you and thinking of getting you involved somehow, so it was nice to hear," he said.
"It is now up to me if I progress. They have given me that chance to be in the squad, now I can't just sit back and watch things happen, I've got to be part of it."
Head coach Stuart Lancaster hasn't been afraid to give youngsters a chance - with seven players handed their debut in the Calcutta Cup clash last season and the likes of Owen Farrell, Joe Launchbury, Mako Vunipola and Burns among those impressing over the past 12 months.
And with the talented tyros claiming the prized scalp of New Zealand in December, Twelvetrees admits that has only fueled his ambitions.
"It was nice to see the young guys get their chance in the autumn, and jealousy was part of it watching it because you want to be out there and part of it," he added.