Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Tuilagi appreciates England chance

Manu Tuilagi insists he has a new understanding of what it means to play for England - and he is hungry to make a fresh start after returning to action from a double injury setback.

The Leicester centre had been one of the few on-field success stories of England's failed World Cup campaign but he returned home from New Zealand in shame.

"When you wear the Red Rose you go out and represent everyone in the country. That has been clarified," Tuilagi said. "That comes from the experiences I had in New Zealand. After that you learn and change things."

Tuilagi's decision to jump from a ferry into Auckland harbour, the day after England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to France, was the final scandal of a tournament dogged by controversy.

The 20-year-old then suffered a shattered eye-socket followed by a hamstring injury, which has restricted him to just five games for Leicester.

But Tuilagi is back in the England fold now - a new environment built by interim coach Stuart Lancaster which places pride and honour in the jersey at the heart of everything - with a shot at redemption.

"I've grown up fast in this environment," said Tuilagi. "I feel I've learned a lot and with that experience I've grown up as a person as well as a player.

"I didn't realise before how much attention and scrutiny you get on you as an England rugby player. I realise it now. I realise I've got to make better decisions in future.

"The World Cup obviously wasn't great, but we've got the Six Nations now to focus on.

"I had a good World Cup personally. I didn't expect to play all those games but it feels like I'm almost starting again with England. I have to put in the work."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph