Billy Twelvetrees, Gloucester Rugby
PUBLISHED: 12:37 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:23 05 April 2013
'When you see your mates have this kind of success, you want it even more,' says Billy Twelvetrees, who has marked a great season with a try for England at Twickenham
When you see your mates have this kind of success, you want it even more, says Billy Twelvetrees, who has marked a great season with a try for England at Twickenham
One word can succinctly sum up Gloucester Rugbys season. Its evident in both their renewed challenge for a top four place in the Aviva Premiership and, most certainly, in the procession of Cherry and Whites stars making an impact on the international stage.
Enjoying a superb first year at Kingsholm and hailed as the future of Stuart Lancasters burgeoning England team, Billy Twelvetrees recognises that its all about progress.
Its been going well so far this season. Its a very close-knit environment at Gloucester, and everyone is very competitive, admits the man who has followed team-mates Ben Morgan, Charlie Sharples and Freddie Burns into the national side. When you see your mates have this kind of success before you, you want it even more.
Yet it is arguably Twelvetrees who has made the biggest impact of all, after scoring a try on his debut in Januarys Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland which set England on their way to a domineering 2013 Six Nations campaign. Reckoned by several esteemed pundits to be a key player in the build-up to the 2015 World Cup, the dynamic fly-half remains phlegmatic on what has been quite a 12 months since moving from Leicester Tigers.
Its worked out very nicely for me, Im enjoying life and enjoying my rugby. I always wanted to score a try for England at Twickenham. It was a very nice moment. Its really positive but I know how quickly things can change, so I need to keep my head down and train hard, and see what happens.
That mantra, of how the hard work only really starts once you reach the top, is a recurring theme in Twelvetrees assessment of both team and individual, and credits new coach Nigel Davies with an immediate impression. For all of the feted talents in this Gloucester side, often unleashed in thrilling style by Davies free-flowing philosophy, it all comes down to an ingeniously uncomplicated ethos.
He just wants hard work, a lot of honesty, and simple, good quality rugby. Move the ball quickly, work hard for each other, make your tackles and pass the ball well. If you do those things well, you then get the opportunity to show what you can do. Its really helped us.
Perhaps not unexpectedly, Twelvetrees refuses to look too far into the future, and will instead concentrate on his day-to-day performances for what he calls a solid and very traditional rugby club. There remains, though, a steely determination which has served him admirably thus far.
Theres a long way to go before I establish myself in the team. You see how much the England team changes, year to year, you cant afford to look that far down the line, he admits. For me, its just about playing for Gloucester. The club gives you a lot of opportunities, and even in training I have to be totally professional. My mentality wont change. But if I keep doing that, of course I have massive ambitions, internationally.
In 2008, Twelvetrees had to ask National League One side Bedford for a trial, after leaving the Leicester Academy. Despite that early set-back, the 24 year-olds confidence never wavered. If you want to play professional rugby, youve got to have belief in your own ability. I always had ambitions to be a professional, but youre never quite sure how its going to happen, in terms of form, injuries and opportunities.
The quality shouldnt be underestimated. It was valuable for my development, in that it gave me that belief in my ability, so I knew what I could do if I got the opportunity to step up to the Premiership.
Twelvetrees rapid rise has continued since arriving at Kingsholm, and the progress of both club and individual has combined in perfect harmony.
Were all behind each other and we all want to win things. Being in a winning team helps you individually as well, and that environment has been fostered by the coaches. They want that winning mentality, and the Gloucester fans really support you every game. The support we receive from the local community is awesome.
United in a common goal, the Cherry and Whites resurgence has already started. Blessed with a crop of exciting young players who are growing up right in front of those fans, Twelvetrees knows success is within their grasp. The Premierships top four would just be the start.
Its one thing that were very ambitious for, he concludes with a rallying cry. We know we can be there but maybe a few defeats have been a blessing in disguise theyve woken us up to the fact that its not going to come easy. Well do it the hard way, but weve definitely got the ability in the squad to achieve it. We just have to keep believing in ourselves and each other.