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'I have no hesitation playing him in 3 different positions' - Skivington praises former Engand centre

By Chris Jones

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Gloucester boss George Skivington has paid tribute to the impact a rejuvenated Billy Twelvetrees is making as the Cherry and Whites prepare for a crucial West Country derby with Bristol at a packed Kingsholm.

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Twelvetrees won the last of his 22 England caps six years ago, but is enjoying a new lease of life at Gloucester with his two tries helping defeat Wasps 35-33 and Skivington believes the 33-year-old shaggy haired centre is still setting the standards for the rest of the squad.

Far from treading water as the “old hand” in a potent back division that includes Scotland internationals Adam Hastings and Chris Harris, England’s Jonny May and Wales wonder boy Louis Rees Zammit, Twelvetrees is having a significant impact in the mid-field and with his goal kicking.

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Gloucester are currently sixth while mis-firing Bristol are down in 11th and Skivington, the director of rugby, said: “Billy is class and when you talk about people who are crucial to what you are doing and are unbelievably good characters – who are good at rugby as well – then Billy fits all of those. I genuinely don’t’ have a bad word to say about Billy and I have known him since he was a kid coming through at Leicester and I am always so impressed by him.

“I asked Billy to lead a young team against Bristol in the Premiership Cup and he was buzzing and excited to do it. He cannot play enough rugby or do enough for the club and wants to be out there playing every week giving 100 per cent. That is what makes him an outstanding individual and sometimes in training we rotate people and if Billy has ben rotated then he is doing shuttle runs up and down. It is so impressive and I told the other coaches that when they look back at film of training keep half an eye on Billy who is there doing shuttles on his own – flogging himself.

“Billy can cover lots of positions and sometimes that puts him in a position that he is the perfect substitute, but I have no hesitation in playing him in three different positions and what he gives you is unique. I feel very lucky to have him in this squad.

Gloucester Billy Twelvetrees
Billy Twelvetrees /PA
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Skivington is confident the mistakes made against Wasps that put Gloucester under pressure after establishing a healthy lead have bene rectified and expects a more clinical performance against a Bristol side that is dangerous despite their problems this season. He added: “The ill discipline was around lads trying to finish the Wasps game off and we have had a good conversation about that having had 65 minutes without too much stress. We were leading by 16 points and didn’t need to kill the game with a magic moment. It is about being smart and there isn’t a puzzle and it is easily fixed.

“Bristol are a real threat all over the park and that is their super strength. They score tries from their own try line and that makes them dangerous and they have created some tries no other team in the league could have done. They did that last season and it is still bubbling under the surface. We have full respect for Bristol.”

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