Six Nations: Twelvetrees relishes facing hero

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BILLY Twelvetrees insists he will not be fazed by the prospect of playing against Brian O’Driscoll, a player he grew up admiring and dreams of one day emulating.

The England centre was just 11 years old when O’Driscoll announced his arrival on the world stage with a hat-trick for Ireland against France in Paris. But it was not until the following year, when O’Driscoll starred on the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, that Twelvetrees fully became aware of the midfield magician.

O’Driscoll proved against Wales last week that age has taken none of his creative genius and Twelvetrees is thrilled, not daunted, by the opportunity to play against him. “I remember watching the Lions back in Australia. I saw him score an awesome try in the first Test and you always want to model yourself on the best players in the world,” Twelvetrees said.

“As a centre he is one of those, he is world class and proves it week on week. He’s a star in his own right. I’d like to think that I could be there in a few years and I’m just looking forward to proving that. But we can’t get caught up in that. You’ve just got to prepare as a team to handle individuals who can do special things. If you stand together one to 15 then you can take away those threats.”

Twelvetrees has kept his place in the side after an eye-catching debut in England’s 38-18 win against Scotland, fending off a challenge from the fit-again Leicester powerhouse Manu Tuilagi. The Gloucester centre marked his debut with a try and helped bring a new dimension to England’s attacking game in conjunction with Owen Farrell at fly-half.

“Stuart [Lancaster] has shown in the past that if guys have come in and played well then he has kept faith in them, so I appreciated that from him,” Twelvetrees said. “He told me I played well and I worked well with Owen and Brad [Barritt], and that I deserved another chance off the back of that.”