Rugby - Lancaster backing Burrell

New boy Luther Burrell can form an England centre partnership with Billy Twelvetrees, according to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

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Rugby - Lancaster backing Burrell
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Northampton centre Luther Burrell can forge a formidable partnership with Billy Twelvetrees for England, according to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

England boss Lancaster has included Northampton centre Burrell as one of five uncapped players in his RBS 6 Nations squad.

Lancaster's remedy for eight high-profile injuries was to retain those crocked stars in his Elite Player Squad, while temporarily promoting a host of second-string England Saxons men for the Six Nations.

Burrell is among those to benefit, boosting England's midfield options with injured Leicester Tiger Manu Tuilagi unlikely to feature during the tournament.

Fit-again Saracens centre Brad Barritt offers another option to Lancaster, while Owen Farrell can operate in the number 12 shirt.

Burrell has featured most frequently at inside centre for Northampton, which is Gloucester playmaker Twelvetrees' favoured role.

Lancaster is confident Burrell could slot in at outside centre though, basing his midfield partnerships more on complementary skills than pairing a definite 12 with a definite 13.

"I could easily see a scenario where Luther and Billy paired up," said Lancaster.

"In the same way that Billy played with Brad Barritt or Manu Tuilagi, you use one of the centres as someone who gets you across the gain line, and another who becomes an option to get you across the line but is also a second distributor and ball player.

"What we need to look at in terms of selection is who the best guy to defend at 13 will be.

"Luther's had plenty of experience doing that at Sale.

"So that's the bit we're going to have to look at during the first few days of the camp.

"But I could definitely see that combination playing together.

"I think Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt will have something to say about that.

"And Brad's obviously played in that position consistently at Saracens, he's been an outstanding defender in the 13 channel.

"But obviously he's only just coming back to full form and fitness."

New additions Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Anthony Watson off-set the injury losses of Christian Wade and Marland Yarde.

Lancaster believes that trio boost England's long-term strike-running power, even if they must still acclimatise to international rugby.

"I think they are the x-factor players we're looking for," said Lancaster.

"Jack Nowell's ability to get his hands on the ball and beat defenders, I think he's beaten more than most this season.

"Anthony Watson has pace and athleticism at 6ft 3in and 16stone, and can change direction at pace too.

"He will cause a lot of problems.

"Jonny May went to South Africa with us, he went to Argentina with us.

"He came into that second Test when Christian left for the Lions tour, and he came in with three hours' notice and played exceptionally well in that match.

"He's another exciting player.

"The trick is for them to have all the component pieces in place: they've got to be defensively strong, understand the system, the value of the kicking game and aerial skills and all that we'll have to coach into them in a short space of time.

"Within that they've got to come into an environment where there's a huge starting game in France away.

"But these players can certainly create those moments of magic that you need to unlock defences.

"It's hugely exciting long-term to have this group of players coming through together as a group.

"We're still developing as a team, we've still got some way to go to be ready for 2015, but long-term it's exciting.

"It will all come down to France away though."

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