British and Irish Lions 2013: Injury fears lead Warren Gatland to draft in Billy Twelvetrees as back-up - International - Rugby Union - The Independent

British and Irish Lions 2013: Injury fears lead Warren Gatland to draft in Billy Twelvetrees as back-up

The 24-year-old will leave the England tour of Argentina

The Lions head coach Warren Gatland has reacted to a series of injuries affecting midfield players by calling up the gifted England inside centre Billy Twelvetrees, summoning him from the red rose tour of Argentina. The Gloucester back, one of the star turns in his country’s comprehensive victory over the Pumas in Salta last Sunday, will arrive in Australia on Friday and is likely to play an important part in proceedings over the next three weeks.

Twelvetrees, seen by many as the long-term to England’s problem position at No 12 because of his wide range of kicking and handling skills, can also play at outside-half – a significant point in his favour, given the fitness worries surrounding the two specialist No 10s in the British Isles party. Jonathan Sexton, the Irish playmaker who has long been a hot favourite to start the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane in nine days’ time, has a hamstring problem, while Owen Farrell, one of Twelvetrees’ colleagues at international level, suffered a “dead” leg in kicking the Lions to a memorable victory over the Queensland Reds.

One of the Lions centres, Manu Tuilagi, has also been in the wars. The Leicester player picked up a shoulder injury against the Reds last Saturday and failed to survive the first quarter of the game. Given that there are only four centres in the party – and only one inside specialist, in the shape of the Welsh player Jamie Roberts – the decision to send for Twelvetrees makes perfect sense.

“It is is in the nature of a Lions tour that there will inevitably be knocks from which players take time to recover,” Gatland said. “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 first Test for England and has the versatility to cover a variety of positions.”

Meanwhile, the England coach Stuart Lancaster responded with characteristic generosity after losing a second key player to Lions duty – the first being the influential loose-head prop Alex Corbisiero, who flew here last weekend as replacement for the injured Irish front-rower Cian Healy. “All the England players and management are delighted that Billy should have this great opportunity,” Lancaster said. “He’s played well for us this year and underlined that form with his display in Salta. He goes with our full support and blessing.”

With only half a dozen genuine midfielders in the entire 37-man party, the Lions have always looked light – especially at centre, which is one of the most attritional positions on the field. Even if Twelvetrees is not thrown into the potentially significant game against New South Wales Waratahs this weekend, he is likely to be involved when the Lions take on the dangerous ACT Brumbies in Canberra next Tuesday.

 



News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
Sport
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week