Rugby Union Reporter
Manu Tuilagi will cause havoc no matter where he is playing, says Phil Edwards
Last Updated: 11/06/14 11:39pm
Well seduce my aged Doc Martens! Or something similar. Stuart Lancaster has thrown the dice, and a number 14 shirt, in the general direction of one Manusamoa Tuilagi.
Lancaster talked in the week about doing it, but even so, the sight of Manu's name on the team-sheet, and on the right wing, is still quite remarkable.
The guy is clearly someone the All Blacks have grown to respect, perhaps even to fear. His contribution to England's win against New Zealand eighteen months ago at HQ was immense. He scored a try and made two more in a second half onslaught that is probably still causing nightmares up and down the land of the long white cloud to this day.
Stuart Lancaster was visibly excited at the prospect of fielding this new-look XV, and told us he'd been toying with idea of playin.g Manu on the wing for the last six to twelve months
Then, last Saturday at Eden Park, Manu carried the ball further than anyone else, scattered tacklers to the four winds, and won an impressive foot-race with Israel Dagg to prevent a try for the hosts.
Clearly the Leicester wrecking-ball is going to get peppered from on high in Dunedin, courtesy of Aaron Cruden, but his selection out wide enables England to revert to the midfield partnership of Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, that was so effective in the Six Nations.
Elsewhere, Rob Webber, Geoff Parling and Ben Morgan retain their places in the pack, and deservedly so many will say, while in comes Tom (nailed-on all week) Wood on the open side.
Danny Care is back, and alongside Owen Farrell at half-back, while the bench looks as potent as a lobster vindaloo, doused in West Indian chilli sauce. I am salivating already!
Among those who'll be polishing the pine on Saturday are the uncapped Newcastle Falcons prop Kieran Brookes, all nineteen and a half stones of him, and Chris (Ash the Splash) Ashton, a bloke who's rediscovered his mojo recently, and in no uncertain terms. You don't get to be the top try-scorer in any Heineken Cup season for nothing. And he just happened to accomplish that feat in the season that's just finished.
We caught up with "the voice of rugby" today, known to you and me as Sky's lead commentator Miles Harrison, and he reckons Saturday's second test in Dunedin has the makings of a classic.
When we pitched up at England's swanky team hotel, Stuart Lancaster was visibly excited at the prospect of fielding this new-look XV, and told us he'd been toying with idea of playing Manu on the wing for the last six to twelve months. Do not think for one moment that this has been a spur of the moment selection. You will find the interview elsewhere on the Sky Sports website.
So what, I hear you ask, is his view of the second test? "I think we're set up for a real humdinger!" Quite!
Tune in to Sky Sports 1 on Saturday morning to see if England can keep the series alive. The second Test is live, and coverage begins at 8am