Lancaster opts for Twelvetrees
Lancaster opts for TwelvetreesSHARE
Billy Twelvetrees has retained his place in the England side that will face Ireland in the Six Nations in Dublin on Sunday after seeing off a challenge from Manu Tuilagi.
The only change to the team that started the tournament-opening 38-18 win over Scotland last week was the return of James Haskell at blindside flank in a back row that had to be revamped by England head coach Stuart Lancaster after No.8 Ben Morgan suffered an ankle injury at Twickenham.
Gloucester centre Twelvetrees made a try-scoring Test debut last Saturday after replacing the then-injured Tuilagi, who missed the Calcutta Cup clash with an ankle problem.
But with Tuilagi now fit and England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward among those saying he should start against Ireland, there was intense speculation about how Lancaster would resolve his midfield conundrum.
Friday saw Lancaster stand by the ball-playing Twelvetrees and defensive rock Brad Barritt as his starting centre combination, with the powerful Tuilagi poised to make an impact off the bench.
For Haskell, Sunday's match will be his first Six Nations start in nearly two years, with Tom Morgan moving across the back row to take Morgan's place at No 8 and England captain Chris Robshaw still at openside flank.
Haskell's last Six Nations start was also in Dublin, when England won the title but saw their 2011 Grand Slam ambitions obliterated with a 24-8 defeat by Ireland at Lansdowne Road.
The 27-year-old missed last season's Championship in order to play club rugby in Japan but has since returned to Premiership side Wasps and re-established himself in the England set-up.
Ireland, who also started this Six Nations with a victory by beating defending Grand Slam champions Wales 30-22 in Cardiff last week, were due to announce their side later on Friday.
England have not won a Six Nations match in Dublin since 2003, which was also the last year they completed a Grand Slam.
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Manu Tuilagi.
Date: Sunday, February 10
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)