Tuilagi promised early sight of the ball
REACTION: “Excited kid” Manu Tuilagi has been promised an early sight of the ball by Leicester and England teammate Ben Youngs should he come off the bench against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
It is more than two years since Tuilagi played the last of his 26 England Tests, with the powerhouse centre’s career interrupted by several groin, knee and hamstring injuries.
England had hoped to deploy him as a replacement for their opening November international against South Africa, a match they eventually won 12-11.
But the 27-year-old was ruled out with a minor groin strain suffered during England’s training camp in Portugal.
Now though he is back on the bench for what will be England’s final Test of 2018.
“I think when he gets on the pitch we’ll be giving it [the ball] to him early so he can get himself in the game,” said scrumhalf Youngs.
“Manu’s like an excited kid at the best of time and this is no different,” added Youngs, himself back in the starting line-up following last week’s win over Japan.
“He’s certainly very excited about this. He’s had to be really patient.
“It’s unfortunate he picked up that niggle at just the wrong time. I’m just so pleased to see him out there. He’s certainly got a big grin on his face, like a Cheshire cat.”
England are bidding for a sixth straight victory over Australia since the Wallabies knocked the hosts out of the 2015 World Cup.
All of those five successive wins over the Wallabies have come since Eddie Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup Final to England, took over as their boss.
Jones, explaining his decision to select Tuilagi against Australia, said: “Manu’s ready to go, so it’s a good opportunity for him and the team.
“He skins everyone at the pool table so hopefully he can do that on the field as well,” the Australian added.
Jones has recalled flyhalf Owen Farrell to his starting XV following last week’s 35-15 win over Japan at Twickenham.
England, however, were outplayed in a first half that ended with 2019 World Cup hosts Japan in a surprise but deserved 15-10 lead.
They were, though, a much-improved side after co-captain Farrell came on at the break.
“When the team got together at half-time it was pretty obvious what we needed,” said Farrell.
“We had to come out in the second half and react that way. On Saturday, it’s about doing that from the off.”