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Twelvetrees keeps place in England rugby
Julian Guyer
07:03 AEST Sat Feb 9 2013

Billy Twelvetrees has retained his place in the England rugby side to face Ireland in the Six Nations in Dublin on Sunday after seeing off a challenge from Manu Tuilagi.

The only change to the England team that started the tournament-opening 38-18 win over Scotland last week was the return of James Haskell at blindside flanker in a back-row revamped by coach Stuart Lancaster after No.8 Ben Morgan suffered an ankle injury at Twickenham.

Gloucester centre Twelvetrees made a try-scoring Test debut last Saturday after replacing the then-injured Tuilagi.

"A lot of the players performed very well and with Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions," Lancaster said.

"But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter."

Tuilagi took over from wing David Strettle on the bench, with Thomas Waldrom filling the replacement position vacated by Haskell.

For Haskell, Sunday's match will be his first Six Nations start in nearly two years, with Tom Morgan moving across the back-row to take Morgan's place at No.8 and England captain Chris Robshaw still at openside flanker.

Haskell's last Six Nations start was also in Dublin, when England won the title but saw their 2011 Grand Slam ambitions obliterated with a 24-8 defeat by Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

The 27-year-old missed last season's Championship in order to play club rugby in Japan but has since returned to Premiership side Wasps and re-established himself in the England set-up.

England (15-1)

Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (capt), James Haskell; Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury; Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Joe Marler

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes, Thomas Waldrom, Danny Care, Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi