England head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed that the outside-half deserved to start against the Wallabies after an assured performance in England’s 28-9 win over Samoa last week.
And his experiment of playing Saracens star Owen Farrell at inside centre may be abandoned after one outing, with Gloucester captain Billy Twelvetrees impressing the England boss.
“George has earned the right to start again. He’s played well enough for that,” Lancaster said.
“Billy Twelvetrees impressed from the bench. He did well and brought good energy to the team.
“He’s worked hard on the feedback we gave him when he came back into camp and he’s a genuine prospect for us at 12.”
The battle to start in England’s midfield is made all the more intriguing as Lancaster pursues a strategy of deploying a second play-maker.
While Twelvetrees plays primarily as a centre, he is also adept at playing 10, as he has done for Gloucester recently, and is a viable option to play a second 10.
[Owen Farrell at 12] is an option we wanted to look at and, obviously, we have a decision to make now.
“Owen helped George out a lot in terms of his on-field communication,” Lancaster added.
“George benefited from having someone like Owen alongside him.
“Owen provided that extra voice and obviously having Ben Youngs inside him helped as well.
“It’s an option we wanted to look at and, obviously, we have a decision to make now.
“It didn’t go all our own way in terms of execution in the backline, but that’s something we need to look at as a backline in general.”
England have already released Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni and centre Kyle Eastmond, as well as Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, ahead of Friday night’s Aviva Premiership clash between the two clubs
Saracens number 8 Billy Vunipola will also miss the match after being concussed on club duty last week, while Lancaster is waiting on the fitness of Northampton Saints lock Courtney Lawes after he injured his knee against Samoa.
Lancaster will confirm his match-day 23 on Tuesday afternoon.
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