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Greenwood backing for Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees will be Stuart Lancaster's starting inside centre at the 2015 World Cup, according to Will Greenwood.

World Cup-winning centre Greenwood believes Gloucester playmaker Twelvetrees has ousted Brad Barritt as England's first-choice 12.

Former British Lions centre Greenwood now expects the 24-year-old to play the majority of England's Test matches, to build the experience to thrive on home turf in 2015.

"It took a lot of time for (New Zealand's) Ma'a Nonu to get there, it doesn't tend to happen overnight for the top stars," Greenwood told Press Association Sport.

"And I see enough in Billy Twelvetrees to get the confidence to be able to fill that role.

"He's got 18 months; he's clearly Stuart's number-one 12.

"And if Gloucester can find themselves in Europe next year, then he can have access to those high-level, high-intensity games that help you progress quickly.

"Stuart will want to try other players of course in the World Cup build-up, but if Billy can play say 13 or 14 Tests then he goes into the tournament with 22, 23 caps under his belt.

"Hopefully most of those will be pretty successful, and he'll have a tour to New Zealand under his belt from the summer too."

Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell join forces in a new-look England backline to open the RBS 6 Nations against France in Paris on Saturday.

Former Leicester playmaker Twelvetrees made a try-scoring England debut against Scotland in February 2013, capping last season with an injury call-up to the British Lions Australia tour.

Uncapped Jack Nowell and Jonny May start on the wings, and Greenwood believes this is the right time for head coach Lancaster to affect change.

Backing Northampton battering-ram Burrell to settle quickly alongside Twelvetrees, Greenwood admitted England must find that elusive outside break from their back-three rather than the midfield against France.

England boss Lancaster is more concerned with complementary partnerships than the inside-outside centre demarcation.

Greenwood still champions the role of the classic, scythe-running 13, but tipped Burrell to acclimatise to international level without issue.

"I always used to laugh at the suggestion Mike Tindall couldn't pass and I couldn't tackle: between us we would stare anyone down and we would do a job," said 55-cap England midfielder Greenwood.

"I come at it slightly differently from Stuart, I do believe there are slightly different skill-sets between an inside centre and an outside centre.

"But as long as you have both of those within your midfield combination that's fine.

"I think they are short of one particular element: a genuine outside break from their 10, 12 and 13.

"But the understanding is very clear that if you've got pace at 11, 14 and 15 then there's no harm in switching and moving people around.

"Billy is a good distributor, he has a good eye, a little bit of experience with eight caps, and he scored a cracking try against Scotland.

"So he knows his way around an international field.

"And Luther, who has been doing great things for Northampton for a while, absolutely deserves his position.

"Injury has forced their hand a little bit in terms of the outside centre position, when you think of Tuilagi, Trinder, Tomkins, Jonathan Joseph and even Matt Hopper.

"But Luther Burrell was always going to get a game for England in the next six months, so sooner rather than later seems a good idea to me."

Rugby World Cup 2015 hospitality packages and supporter travel packages are on sale.

Top-level corporate tickets for the World Cup final run close to £2,000, but Greenwood believes the pricing structures are balanced sensibly.

"There will be 2.3million tickets for the tournament on sale, and 150,000 of those are corporate hospitality," he said.

"That's seven per cent, and from that seven per cent comes 20 per cent of the IRB's tournament revenue.

"That money is reinvested into the development of the game in the next four-year cycle, and I think that's what the man on the street or at the local rugby club should see as being the benefit, rather than the top numbers without context."


From Belfast Telegraph