England pick side to face Scots
Billy Twelvetrees (Getty Images)
London - Uncapped Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees is set to make his England debut in the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday after being named in the starting XV.
Twelvetrees was one of two changes announced by coach Stuart Lancaster when he unveiled his run-on side on Thursday, with the midfielder replacing the injured Manu Tuilagi (ankle).
The only other change to the side that started England's record-breaking 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham last time out in December saw Joe Marler come in for Alex Corbisiero after his fellow tight-head prop was ruled out of the entire Six Nations with a knee problem.
Lancaster signalled Twelvetrees's inclusion when he retained him in his matchday 23 announced Tuesday and excluded London Irish's Jonathan Joseph.
Now the 24-year-old will partner Brad Barritt in England's midfield.
Lancaster could have deployed either Owen Farrell or Toby Flood, both primarily outside-halves, at inside centre.
But instead he kept Farrell, who starred against the All Blacks, at No 10 with Flood on the bench as specialist fly-half cover.
Tuilagi's pace and power saw him score one and help create two of England's three tries against New Zealand.
However, Twelvetrees has been in fine form for Gloucester this season after joining from Leicester, impressing with his handling game and all-round ball-playing skills.
Earlier this month former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes said Twelvetrees could be the man to provide the guile the Red Rose midfield have often been accused of lacking in recent seasons.
"He has a lovely pass off left and right, he can kick and he can carry. He is a guy who can change the way England play," Barnes said.
Elsewhere, scrumhalf Ben Youngs held off a challenge to his place from Danny Care and it was a similiar story for his brother, Tom Youngs, retained at hooker instead of Dylan Hartley.
On the bench, Hartley, Toby Flood and David Strettle replaced David Paice, Freddie Burns and Joseph respectively.
"We are happy to stick with the team that did so well against New Zealand, especially in light of the fact that they have all been in good form for their clubs since then," said Lancaster of a side that is again captained by Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw.
"There were some very tight calls, with some experienced players coming back into contention, and I am sure the bench will have a significant impact on the game," he added.
"We can't wait to get back to Twickenham and hopefully experience the same atmosphere as the autumn when the crowd was superb."
Interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson named his team Tuesday, with the most eye-catching pick the inclusion of uncapped New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland.
Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon in last season's Six Nations, are seeking a first win at Twickenham in 30 years.
15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler
Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 David Strettle