Second Test: All Blacks will target Manu Tuilagi, says Aaron Cruden
Last Updated: 12/06/14 4:53pm
Aaron Cruden during training in Dunedin on Thursday
Aaron Cruden says New Zealand will target Manu Tuilagi when the All Blacks face England in the second Test at Dunedin on Saturday.
The fly-half admits Tuilagi is one of the tourists’ key players but will be appearing on the wing for the first time at international level.
Tuilagi starts on the right, outside of centres Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, when the teams take to the field at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
And Cruden says the rookie winger can expect an aerial bombardment as the hosts try to expose him in his new role.
"Kicking to him would be an option we'll look at that for sure," he said. "He's a natural midfielder who hasn't played much on the wing so we'll probably put a few up on him and test him early.
"Manu is a real asset with the ball in hand and it gives us a fair bit of tackling practice when they throw him the ball and he charges into us.
"We'll probably bump into him whether he's on the wing or in midfield at some stage. He's really thick in the legs with big hips so tackling him is quite hard.
"When you're young, you're taught to go low and drop them there but that doesn't seem to work against him - so we'll try to nullify the momentum he gets in his carrying.
"We'll need to get up on him as quickly as possible while holding the integrity of our line and chop him as early as possible."
However, England coach Stuart Lancaster is confident that Tuilagi will give a good performance out wide: "Manu's done a few high balls in training but the way we defend, our wingers will be up and the back field will be covered by numbers eight, 15, 10.
"He's more than happy catching the high ball, there's no doubt about it. I'm sure some will come his way."
As for facing the All Blacks for a second time, following England’s narrow defeat last Saturday, Lancaster added: "We are very respectful of New Zealand and the way they closed out the game at Eden Park.
"We did lots of good things but ultimately didn't win and New Zealand deserve huge credit for that.
"I'm sure they'll be better prepared and have more cohesion for this Test. They'll be a significantly better side this week so we need to be better also."
Watch England take on New Zealand in the Second Test in Dunedin from 8.00am this Saturday on Sky Sports 1