Lions call up Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees is leaving England’s tour of Argentina to join the British & Irish Lions in Australia.

The Gloucester Rugby centre, a try scorer in last weekend’s 32-3 win against the Pumas, has been called up as back line cover and leaves Buenos Aires today to fly to Sydney.

British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “The nature of a Lions tour means that there will inevitably be knocks which take time to recover from. The whole squad have worked hard but a lot of the backs have doubled up over the last two games, either starting or from the bench. Billy played well in the 1st Test for England and he provides that versatility to cover a variety of positions.”

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “All the England players and management delighted for Billy to get this great opportunity. He’s played well for England this year, underlined that form with his display against Argentina at the weekend and goes with our full support and blessing.”

What do you make of the decision to call up Twelvetrees?

35 thoughts on “Lions call up Billy Twelvetrees

  1. Interesting is the word I’d use to describe it. Good to see him getting some recognition, it’ll do wonders for his confidence being called up to a Lions tour, but where are they going to use him? With Davies, Roberts, Manu and BOD, I didn’t think the centre berths were ones considered lacking depth, unless there is a secret injury to any of those players or he’s being considered as centre/fly half cover off the bench to bolster midweek teams and reduce the necessity of both fly halves being at all of the games

  2. Very interesting and pretty out of the blue, but very glad from an England point of view as it will be great experience. I think the coaches have realised they can’t stretch the four centres they currently have over the Waratahs, Brumbies and first Test without over working them. And there will likely be injuries in those games so it’s best to get cover in sooner rather than later.

  3. No word of who he is covering? Didn’t Manu go off with a little twinge in his last game – and BOD said he was “tight” after that stretch to try a kick ahead towards the end on Tuesday? Rumour mill into overdrive…

    1. apparently Sexton and Farrell are both still struggling with their leg injuries.

      Manu has the stinger, BOD was tight (both of which you rightly pointed out)

      and gatland has tipped a nod to how much rugby they have been playing recently. clearly they are realising that they should have taken an extra centre.

      great news for Bill. hope he goes well, and gets a good crack against someone.

      1. I would imagine he’ll almost definitely start against the Brumbies next week. Will be a great experience for him, and after being (a tad unfairly) benched for most of the Six Nations it’s no less than he deserves after a great season.

        1. a tad? thats probably a slight understatement, IMO. He played very well in the 6Ns, and they dropped him. Barritt offered less, and Manu was an automatic selection.

          I think 36 will have felt pretty pee’d off, and has decided to make himself an automatic selection from now on.

          Interesting to note, Barritt was one of the players rested by england – in case the lions came calling. Clearly Gatland is making the statement that 36 is (in his mind) a better player than Barritt.

          At least now england will have a good reason to drop Barritt. Why wouldnt you want two lions tourists in your centres!?!

  4. Essentially I think it boils down to not being able to keep his test 23 fresh enough because too many of them will have to cover midweek. Tuilagi going off early when doubling up, North tight hamstring doubling up is probably not coincidental. With Kearney not having played thus far it’s meant a high workload for the backs and limited options for rotation. Add on top of that they are concerned about a lack of quality in the warm up matches and needing to replicate a test intensity in training I think this is a sensible precaution.

    Brilliant for 36 as well, unfortunate to be on the bench throughout the latter stages of the 6N and therefore not getting the opportunity to really stake a claim.

  5. What is Gatland playing at?

    “Billy Twelvetrees is joining the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia as cover for the tourists’ injury-affected backline”.

    But it’s Sexton and Farrell who have injuries and although Tuilagi picked up a stinger there is centre cover for him so it isn’t quite so worrying. My guess is that Tuilagi is worse than Gatland is letting on and he doesn’t expect him to recover.

  6. Bit of a strange one. As suggested above I thought our injury concerns were more at 10 and in the back three.

  7. Not a bad shout- he can cover 10/12/13. I imagine he’s being brought in with that in mind, as although he plays 12, kicking aside he’s a better 10 than Farrell.

  8. Really happy with this as I’m as massive Twelvetrees fan. Mind you, I’m not sure why he has been called up. All I can think of is midweek game time to ease the pressure on the current players. Or Tuilagi or BODs injuries are worse than first thought. I hope it is the first reason mind you, I want Tuilagi and BOD in my test XV come 22nd June.

    1. Don’t sweat it over BOD. A rub of the sponge, a bit of gauze with a little bit of electrical tape and he will be grand. He would still play even if they had to amputate one of his legs!


  9. It’s a conspiracy. Obviously Gats couldn’t bear to see England play so well and win the series. He was also worried that another good display and he would displace Barritt for good.

    Well at least he had one test to show the Eng management what he can do. I think he’s the best 12 out of the home nations. He has the lot. Hope he gets a chance to show it and is not dispatched without playing a match.

    I wonder if it’s Kearney and Gats has belatedly realised he has more than enough cover at 15 but is lacking 10/ 12 options.

    1. Hey, an Eastmond/Joseph centre pairing ought to be exciting. Bags of pace.
      As long as Morgan, Burns and Wade(is he next?) are there, England won’t be too shabby.

      1. we may see Burrell and JJ for england. its slightly more like-for-like in the centres.

        Also, Eastmond and JJ are a VERY lightweight centre combo. Huge gas, which is great for attack, but defensively they will need bulk. plus you want some bulk in the centre to get over the gain line off first phase ball.

        I wouldnt mind JJ and Eastmond, but i would expect Burrell to get an England cap this weekend.

  10. just read a very interesting comment about this call up.

    someone refereed to this as vindication for choosing to leave Leicester. its a very fair point. Cockers seem to have been holding back a real talent.

    Obviously its hugely hypothetical, but had he not been held back (and england not been obsessed with Barritt) things could be pretty different – ie not just a player called up late on.

    1. Cockerill definitely held back 12T. Look at what he did against a world class Ospreys side at just 20 years old in 09. Somebody who does that shouldn’t debut for their country at 24.
      He’s an absolute gem and if this doesn’t make Lancaster realise how much better than Barritt is; then I have lost all faith in the man. Same with Wade and Ashton.

      1. Agree Tom. I mean Cockers even had Jeremy Staunton ahead of himin th epecking order for heaven’s sake. I hope Ford likewise kicks on for Bath.

        And yes I hope 12t gets the inside berth ahead of Barritt. I don’t think BB should be discarded, there may be times, such as a wet weekend at Murrayfield, when his type of pragmatic play would useful, I just don’t think he shold ever be paired with Farrell. It’s too conservative. However he might be an ideal partner if Ford starts to knock on the door, to take away the defensive responsibilities and let him concetrate on his game (albeit in the early matches)

      2. Even as a Tigers fan I’d have to agree here, the way Cockers dealt with Twelvetrees was not at all ideal. I always thought they might try and switch him to fullback to make him the long term successor to Murphy.

        The problem with being a centre at Tigers is that Allen and Tuilagi are so integral (in different ways) to how the Tigers play that you are never going to see much game time apart from through injury. Just ask Dan Bowden!

        1. I think cockers is damned shrewd. Yes 12T is a talent, but the way Leicester were playing with Allen and Tuilagi there just wasn’t room for him. It’s the same with Ford. He’s not kicked on quickly enough to really displace Flood, so why would you play an unreliable kicker when you’re in games where every point counts? Better for Leicester to have a replacement 10 who is reliable-ish, but not good enough to bugger off with England for the internationals. Hence Ryan Lamb.

          I know Staunton got playd ahead of 12T a lot at one stage, but that was entirely because 12T had little to no experience at fly-half. When Staunton was injured and Leicester were desperate, they put Billy in and he was better than average at 10, but hardly great.

          So yeah, Leicester lose a lot of talent, but they make up for it hugely with the gameplan and the players they bring in.

  11. Did you see JJ in the match. He has seriously bulked up. Thought he looked a bit over weight tbh.

    Will be interesting to see whether SL goes for his comfort zone and chooses Burrell or goes for KE. Thought our defence was outstanding last week even with the little guys.

    1. He did seem to have bulked up, which may be why he got the nod over daly.

      That being said, a bulkier JJ is still no Manu. And I do think he would struggle taking in the route 1 style of play.

      Like I said, I would love to see him and eastmond together, but I am not sure we will.

      1. No -one is like Manu!! I thought both 12t and JJ did well in breaking tackles and getting over the gain line, he created 2 clear cut try opportunities for Strettle. Not sure what Eastmond is like defensively but his size a lone shouldn’t be an issue if he can defend.

  12. Why? He’s going to turn up with no time to stake a claim for the test team, and play a couple of mid week games. From that point of view it’s a bit of a poisoned chalice he’s ended up with. You can’t turn the Lions down, but he will never be given a fair crack at the Test team.

    It’s great recognition for a very talented player, but I just can’t help thinking Gats decision has meant he won’t have a proper run at either the England position where he’s battling the incumbent player or the Lions team.

    1. That’s my fear too. But I think 12t is a serious talent – I’d like to think that if he does impress in training he’ll get a chance. What would really p1ss me off is if he is sent back without playing a match if those he is covering for recover. Just feel that they could’ve waited until after Saturday.

    2. Probably going to need an injury to get him into a test 23. However, hypothetically, we lose the first test with the Wallabies withstanding the power game. There’s very little of plan B currently available. A 12 who is big enough to take the crash ball, fast enough to go round, smart enough to distribute and a cannon of a boot becomes a really decent option.

      Even if he doesn’t make a test 23 think he’ll benefit more from being in a Lions environment than spending 4 more days in Argentina to play against a fairly poor Argentina second string.

  13. Well, given the reasoning behind his call up, namely to take some pressure off guys who have been training and warming up for pretty much every game so far, it would be odd if he didn’t even appear on the bench. And if he’s there to cover the bench, you can guarantee he’ll come on at some point to spare a first choice from playing an entire game.

    I doubt he’ll make the test side, but this will be good experience for him. On the bench with 20 minutes of play and just hte general boost of doing a tour like this, I doubt it will hurt

    1. Totally agree, he is going to be training with BOD, coached by Howley and Jenkins. If he doesn’t pick up the odd trick here and there, then I would be amazed.

      Training in the lions environment will be good for every player that gets the call up. Also 36 has had the call in the run up to the tests, so you can guarantee that this is when the training starts to really get going.

      Another positive for him, is he gets a bit more exposure to Rowntree and Farrell Sr in an environment without Brad Barritt. To prove himself here, even just in training, would really push his England credentials.

      I would expect him to at least bench for both the Tahs and Brumbies games.

  14. Interesting piece on Wales Online yesterday pointing out that this 12T callup might say a lot about how Gatland (and his team) view Hook. When you think of the assumed reason 12Ts has been called up (utility) then a player like Hook, the definition of a utility back, must be seeing this as a clear indication he is not viewed by Gatland as a useful player?

    1. Hadn’t thought about Hook actually. He clearly can cover the positions that 12T will, and more. But he carries a lot more bulk than Hook does, and we all know that means a lot in Gatlands eyes.

      1. I think for me the key would be Hook’s experience – he’s been a utility back on a Lions tour, he’s played in umpteen test matches at 10, centre and FB. He’s also a pretty great rugby player.

        So the only reason I can think of for not calling him up is that Gats has an issue with him – I’m not convinced 12Ts is a much better player than Hook (I don’t think it’s clear cut as they are both good) so on balance you’d tend to go for the experienced guy when picking 2 similar players?

        1. I don’t think that they are “similar” players though.

          Hook is probably more of a 10 who can play the other positions.
          36 is a 12 who can play the others. He has the bulk and power that Hook does not.

          By all accounts Manu is still getting over the stinger, and BOD has a groin strain.
          Both 10s have recovered from their leg strains and are in the match this weekend, so that would suggest that 36 is there primarily as a centre.

          Hook is widely regarded as the type of player who can create something out of nothing. Twelvetrees on the other hand facilitates creators. He also provides the ability to take the ball hard to the line if things go to pot. With hook comes an element of risk (his style of play) which Gatland (very conservative style) is not comfortable with, especially in the 10-12 channel.

          Personally I thought he had a good shout of making the tour in the first place, as he had the ability to cover 10 and was pretty much everything Gatland would want in a 12 and more.

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