Clark, Twelvetrees get England rugby call

By The Crowd, The Crowd is a Roar Guru

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25 Have your say

    England head coach Stuart Lancaster has included uncapped pair Calum Clark and Billy Twelvetrees in his 33-man squad for the Six Nations, which starts on February 2.

    Northampton forward Clark returns to the England fold after serving a 32-week ban for breaking an opponent’s elbow last year.

    Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Freddie Burns have also been promoted to the senior squad after making an impact in England’s end-of-year internationals.

    Lancaster, who also announced a 32-man squad for the second-string Saxons team, said: “The fact that we have spent significant time deliberating over quite a few players shows how tough the competition is to get into this 65 and the strength in depth that is emerging.

    “We have made some changes to both squads and we feel that reflects the players’ form during the first half of the season.

    “There will undoubtedly be movement between the two squads as we go through the RBS 6 Nations and that was evident in the QBE Internationals, with players in form pushing through such as Freddie Burns, Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola.”

    James Haskell of Wasps has replaced Phil Dowson in the back row, while Saracens wing David Strettle comes in for Charlie Sharple.

    Launchbury takes the place of Wasps colleague Tom Palmer, with Youngs coming in for injured Bath hooker Rob Webber.

    At centre, Lancaster has dropped Anthony Allen and Jordan Turner-Hall for Twelvetrees and his Gloucester teammate Burns.

    Clark was selected for last season’s Six Nations campaign but he was then sidelined for over eight months after admitting in March to breaking Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins’ elbow in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final.

    Twelvetrees, meanwhile, has impressed in his first season at Gloucester alongside Burns, who made an eye-catching debut in the 38-21 triumph against New Zealand at Twickenham in the end-of-year internationals.

    Burns, Launchbury, Vunipola and Youngs were all classed as injury replacements when they played during that series, but they have now been formally selected.

    England begin their Six Nations campaign at home to Scotland on February 2.

    England squad:
    Forwards: Calum Clark (Northampton), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dan Cole (Leicester), Tom Croft (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), Tom Johnson (Exeter), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester)

    Backs: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester), Ben Foden (Northampton), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), David Strettle (Saracens), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

    © AFP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • January 10th 2013 @ 4:53am
      Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 4:53am | ! Report

      Really happy with this squad. I’m a big fan of Clark and Twelvetrees. Clark is just so aggressive, so combative. He’s exactly the sort of player you need against a spoiling side like the Italians, and he Wood, and Robshaw would provide a real hard edge against the French pack.

      Tom Youngs proved me badly wrong in the Autumn, and with Hartley in good form there’s now actual depth at 2. I’m still not convinced about Marler, but he’s a babe in propping terms, and has by and large done well. With Corbisiero (when fit), Hartley, Cole, Wilson, Launchbury, Lawes, Parling, Haskell, Clark, Wood and Robshaw the foundations are there for a serious pack. And with a luxury like Tom Croft too!

      I’m also glad that Lancaster has finally come good on his media bytes re a footballing 12. For all his toil and defensive grit Barritt really is a one trick pony at Test level. He doesn’t combine well with Flood, and if Farrell is to start at 10 then we need a footballing brain and greater width of passing at 12. There’s still an issue with the 11 jersey, and I don’t think Mike Brown’s performance against NZ is the answer. Does Strettle deserve one more chance? Possibly, but only due to lack of alternatives.

      Can’t wait for the 6N. I see Wales aren’t going to Poland this time around. First of all going there was what was winning them games, and then when they copped their 7 losses in a row all that training had fatigued them… I see…

      • January 10th 2013 @ 8:25am
        Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        I hope you were meaning despite Browns performance against NZ becuz Brown was excellent in that game.

        Barritt is a quality player and I disagree about “needing” a ball playing 12. I would be very surprised if Billy gets a start in the big games but we will see.

        As far as wingers go, how about C.Wade or J.Joseph as options. Imo Brown has played well on the wing and seemed to grow into the roll. He was very good against NZ.

        Good to see Croft back to push Wood. Would have liked to see B.Vunipola in the squad instead of Waldrom and I think S.Armitage is Englands best openside if not Europes.

        Marler? Hmmm, I hope he is 3rd choice behind A.Corbisiero and M.Vunipola.

        • January 10th 2013 @ 9:36am
          Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          Brown was excellent against NZ, but that doesn’t mean he’s a natural fit in the 11 jersey. I’d certainly prefer to see an out and out winger. Wade is defensively inconsistent, very fallible under the high ball and a natural 14, and Joseph has no real history of wing play. We are just lacking 11s in England ATM, but as Launchbury has shown, who knows what people are capable of when given the chance.

          Barritt has had one noticeably good game for England. His width of passing is terrible, and for a former 10 (albeit a SA 10) his kicking game is nonexistent. He’s a robust defender, but he rarely crosses the gainline in attack. He will likely start the bigger games, but Lancaster seems to realise his obvious limitations.

          I don’t see the point in Waldrom either, but there you go. Perhaps Lancaster thinks it’s a little too soon for Vunipola?

          I would imagine that Marler will start ahead of Vunipola, with Corbisiero looking unlikely to feature at this point in time.

          I think Armitage is just a good club player. He has always looked off the pace when playing for England, and it’s generally recognised that players in France are less fit than in England. I made a point a few months ago that Lancaster echoed recently, that Armitage is playing behind what is one of the best non-Test packs in world rugby, so of course he’s going to look good. Also, there are very few over the ball 7s playing in the Top 14 so he has an automatic advantage. As an England fan I’m content with Robshaw playing 7. He’s a warrior – always gives his all.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 10:00am
            Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report

            Lancaster is tying to justify his reluctance to include players who play in France. Armitages fitness is not a problem. He has only had 5 caps from nearly 4 years ago and judging a player in obvious form based on 4 years ago is flawed to say the least.
            I hate the phrase “If it isnt broken…” but in this case it applies to an extent with Brown. If Brown is playing well I cant see any point in worry. Would be nice if Eng pulled a Savea out of somewhere.

            • January 10th 2013 @ 10:16am
              Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

              How do you know fitness isn’t a problem? Warren Gatland commented on it recently with regard to Mike Phillips, and players like Tom Smith, Paul Volley, John Daniell, Tom Palmer and Perry Freshwater have all made comments about the training routines of French clubs. Unless Armitage has dramatically improved his fitness, which I doubt, then he has no real case for inclusion into the EPS. Robshaw has been the best 7 in England and has by and large played very, very well for England.

              I don’t think it’s accurate to say Brown is playing well on the wing. He played well, and on that one game is probably the man who deserves the next shot but it’s not like he has a (to quote Robbie Deans) any background there. If he continues to play well there then fair enough, but IMO he is an out and out 15. Conversely, I’m pleased with the options on the right wing. I just think we need players to bring the best out of Ashton. The only player to have done that to date is Flood, and to a lesser extent Cueto and Foden.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 6:57pm
        nickoldschool said | January 10th 2013 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

        Same here, cant wait for the tournament to start.

        PSA announced that Pascal Papé will captain France this year i.o Dusautoir. Dunno if it means that Nyanga (and/or Ouedraogo) has a chance to retain his spot in the starting XV, dont think so really but who knows. why change a winning team though. Plenty to look forward to this year.

    • January 10th 2013 @ 6:41am
      FTR said | January 10th 2013 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      I like the squad too. I’d have picked Tom Palmer or Mouritz Botha over Tom Johnson – the EPS seems very light on locks and very heavy on back-rowers – but overall it’s difficult to have many complaints.

      On Strettle, I don’t think he has what it takes at Test level – he looks very, very lightweight at that level – but as you say, what are the alternatives? I’m even less a fan of Sharples. I think Varndell is maybe a little unlucky but perhaps Lancaster has doubts over his character.

      On Twelvetrees, I think he’s a lovely footballer but I have grave doubts about whether he is truly a “Test match animal”. As Owen Farrell proves, being a Test player is as much about mentality as about physical and technical attributes; and Twelvetrees, to me, just seems a bit soft. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong because England need a footballer at 12.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 7:19am
        Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 7:19am | ! Report

        I don’t really see the point of including Johnson either, especially if Clark is there. Johnson did play very well on the weekend, but he’s not going to usurp Wood or Robshaw unless a run of injuries strike, and he’s unlikely to challenge Croft either. Granted he can cover 8, but so what? Lawes will clearly be the lock riding the pine, so why not keep another specialist middle jumper in there like Palmer? Palmer hasn’t played much, but he’s done the goods for England off the back of some middling club form before and he’s an experienced man. In the long-term I’d like to see Kruis take up residence in a 5 jersey for Saracens.

        There’s really a dearth of 11s in England. Ideally I’d like to see Eastmond play there regularly for Bath. Wade is a natural 14, Varndell is probably unlucky not to be included as you say, and if Biggs isn’t going to get a game now then he’ll probably never break into the Test XV. I suspect we will see Foden or Brown on the wing.

        Lancaster has some strong results behind him now, so he has an opportunity to try one or two different players and the style in which England play. Twelvetrees is no Tuilagi in defence, but I’ve noticed that he’s certainly chucking himself about this season. Agree re Farrell. As an aside, I still don’t see where Joseph fits in. I notice he’s playing 15 for Irish tomorrow night and played on the wing the other week.

        Hard to have too many complaints though, like you say.

        • January 10th 2013 @ 8:47am
          Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 8:47am | ! Report

          I think you have answered your own question about J.Joseph. He is a bench utility who is capable of playing 11,12, 13, 14 & 15. Lancaster has already used him as such.

          I like Brown on the wing and I love the fullback style of wing such as Jane, Foden or Brown.

          8 back rowers in a 33 man squad is ridiculous and my only reasoning for it is that he has Croft as a lock option.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 9:31am
            Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            Lancaster has only ever played Joseph at 13, either starting or off the bench, and being shifted around by Brian Smith doesn’t automatically mean he is capable of playing wing or fullback to a high enough level. This is the same Brian Smith who has played Watson on the wing and fullback, Steven Shingler at 10, 12 and 13, Geraghty at 10 and 12 and Homer at 15 and wing and Tagicakibau at wing and centre. That aside, my point was where he fits in for England. He has started with Tuilagi at 12, so if he starts again does he feature alongside Barritt or Twelvetrees, yet another new combination.

            Brown has had one good Test on the wing. His positioning against the Springboks was poor.

            Clark is included in the locking group, but I imagine the fact Croft has moonlighted as a temporary lock has been considered by the coaches.

            • January 10th 2013 @ 10:13am
              Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              With J.Joseph being a utility, it is true that he is very unlikely to play FB with Brown and Goode playing but Im sure he would be considered as a wing as well as a centre otherwise I see no point in forcing Tuilagi onto the wing. Surely in that situation Joseph would go to the wing first?

              Clark is only 6’3 and surely not an international locking option?

              Anyway they only need 3 locks and if 1 gets injured they just pull in somebody from the wider group.

              • January 10th 2013 @ 10:19am
                Ben.S said | January 10th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

                But how is Joseph a utility? Because Smith has shifted him about? It’s clear Lancaster doesn’t see him that way. Tuilagi used to play wing. He’s only been playing 13 for 3 seasons. The talk in England a while back was about shifting Tuilagi to wing and Joseph to 13.

                I don’t see Clark as a locking option, but he’s listed as such. He used to be an out and out 7 at age group, but having grown to 6’3/6’4 he was shifted to 6. I still think he could do a job at 7 if necessary as he is a real pest over the ball, but I don’t think he’s as capable as Neil Back has stated this week.

                Yeah, exactly, one injury, although I think after what we saw with Wood in the Autumn at the set piece that Lancaster doesn’t feel the need to have another middle jumping 5 in the senior squad.

              • January 10th 2013 @ 1:30pm
                AdamWest said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

                Really not sure all the debate about proper wingers really matters that much with Barritt in the line. I’m with HT on this one – may as well pick someone out there who can do more than typical wingers duties and don’t necessarily agree Browns positioning against the Boks was any worse than many games I’ve seen Ashton play for example.

                Surely this has to be the tourno he gives Twelvetrees a decent run of games. Is there really anything new we need to know about Barritt and for all his heart and bravery, don’t we all wish there was a different option?

              • January 11th 2013 @ 6:01am
                FTR said | January 11th 2013 @ 6:01am | ! Report

                Didn’t Joseph play on the wing at U20 level? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see him as a potential wing option.

            • January 11th 2013 @ 8:38am
              Hightackle said | January 11th 2013 @ 8:38am | ! Report

              Ben, Lancaster uses J.Joseph as a bench player.
              Coaches normally use utilities on the bench.
              Joseph does play wing, Joseph does play centre, Joseph can play full back. To say he is not a utility is wrong imo and to say that Lancaster clearly doesnt see him as a utility is also wrong.
              J.Joseph has represented England at fullback, wing and now centre. I would consider that a utility and Lancasters use of him on the bench suggests to me that he also knows this and sees him as flexable and thats why he is used as the bench player in the first place.

              • January 11th 2013 @ 10:24am
                Ben.S said | January 11th 2013 @ 10:24am | ! Report

                If Lancaster saw Joseph as a utility player then why does he keep playing him at 13 off the bench and moving other players? Simply having the 23 jersey doesn’t automatically make you a utility player. Joseph has not represented England at any position apart from 13. There really isn’t any more to it.

    • January 10th 2013 @ 8:59am
      Rhys said | January 10th 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      I think this is a reasonably strong squad, but I don’t know if I agree with the selection of Clark, there is agressive, yes, but there is just being a plain thug and I tend to think Clark falls into that category. There was the elbow breaking incident, which was disgusting, but he was also sent off in the U/20’s WC final a few years back after being yellow carded earlier in the game.

      If he carries on like that at top international level, he’ll get rubbed out reasonably quickly I’d imagine…

      • January 10th 2013 @ 9:21am
        Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        It was a head butt in the JWC I think. Still, grooming him to take over from Robshaw at openside could pay off as long as he doesnt lose control…again.

    • January 10th 2013 @ 9:35am
      Hightackle said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Vunipola, Youngs, Wilson, Lawes, Croft/Wood, Care, Farrell/Flood, Joseph.

      Is the team they will go with imo.

    • January 10th 2013 @ 10:12am
      jameswm said | January 10th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      Are you seriously telling me there’s someone called Twelvetrees?

      • January 10th 2013 @ 1:13pm
        Colin N said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

        Yep, or 36 as he’s commonly known.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 1:19pm
        AdamWest said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        It’s his professional wrestling name

      • January 10th 2013 @ 1:46pm
        Bazza Allblack Supporter said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        He lives next door to Mr Mole and Freddy the Fox…

    • January 11th 2013 @ 3:02pm
      ScotandProud said | January 11th 2013 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

      Theres players that make the step up to test level and those who dont. some say Twelvetrees won;t.. Have to wait and see.
      Whichever England need a fly half LIKE Freddie Burns to make the step up as, much as I rate flood, England arent going to have consistent success at the top level with him or Farrell in the side, they need a flair player at 10 who is a threat and knows how to unleash his backs.
      in terms of delivering the goods I want to see Foden in the team as I feel he delivers consistently in attack at test level.
      I understand the need for continuity but the sooner waldrom and a couple of others go the better.
      Clark reminds me of a young Danny Grewcock, he will still make errors but he has that mentality that England need.

      • January 12th 2013 @ 1:13am
        Hightackle said | January 12th 2013 @ 1:13am | ! Report

        Whats with this “need” stuff?
        Clark is clearly not needed with Robshaw as captain and playing well and both Wood and Croft very good blindside players.
        I like Burns at 10 but I think Farrell has been very good in the majority of his test matches.
        Goode was excellent in Fodens absence.
        Imo England will be favs in 2015.
        The age of quality players such as the Youngs bros, the Vunipola bros, Morgan, Cole, Corbisiero, Goode, Burns, Farrell, Tuilagi, Marler, Lawes, Launchbury, Ford, Wade, Joseph makes me think that Eng will be the ones to beat in their home WC.

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