Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes is excited by the selection of Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees to England's squad.
Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes is excited by the selection of Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees to England's Elite Player squad.
Barnes hailed coach Stuart Lancaster's “fascinating selection” of Twelvetrees and backed the former Leicester midfielder to shine for his country.
Twelvetrees, along with Northampton flanker Calum Clark, was one of just two uncapped players included in Lancaster's 33-man squad ahead of the upcoming Six Nations 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,” he added.
“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.”