Tuilagi earns Burke praise
Published 22/09/2013 | 07:46
Leicester backs coach Paul Burke hailed Manu Tuilagi after the British and Irish Lions star helped catapult his side to the top of the Aviva Premiership.
The 22-year-old centre created two of Leicester's five tries in the 31-6 bonus point win over Newcastle at home.
It has been a difficult week for Tuilagi after being reprimanded by his boss Richard Cockerill for the 'bunny ears' sign he made with Prime Minister David Cameron, who hosted a reception for the Lions following their triumph in Australia.
Tuilagi was making his first appearance since that tour and he showed why he is rated one of the best players in the world as Leicester took advantage of Northampton's defeat by Gloucester to go top of the standings.
Burke said: "The break he made for (Graham) Kitchener's try was outstanding. It shows how immense he can be, and how strong he is.
"It was Manu's first game since the Lions and he got through 75 minutes and showed how important he is to our team. He got cramp at the end and we took him off as a precaution.
"You know what he brings to the table, he is a very aggressive player. He will admit he was a bit rusty at times but it was his first hit-out and he will be better for that performance.
"There are not many players in world rugby who can do what Manu does. He is very important to our team and it's important we get him up to speed. We have got a big six weeks coming up."
Leicester's other four tries came from Jordan Crane, American full-back Blaine Scully on his debut, Dan Bowden and Thomas Waldrom.
Former Newcastle fly-half Toby Flood kicked two conversions, while his replacement Owen Williams added one, with Newcastle's points coming from fly-half Rory Clegg's penalty and a drop goal.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was making his first visit to the club where he became a legend as a player and a boss for the first time in five years following the 'Bloodgate' scandal which earned him a three-year ban.
He said: "We came here with a lot of young boys who did not have the experience Leicester have.
"If you look at their starting line-up and their bench, it's not a bad squad, is it?
"We came here with no worries and there were positives to come out of it. Players like Dom Barrow, Scott Wilson, Joel Hodgson, Will Welch and Mark Wilson have played a reasonable amount of rugby but not always at this level.
"You could not go anywhere else other than here to gain that experience. It's fantastic.
"I'd still have liked the scoreline to have been reversed and in time it will be. We just need to work on how to do it.
"We made four clean breaks in the first half and didn't nail them. If you make four clean breaks at Leicester you have to nail them.
"Had we scored one or two it might have been different but going in at half-time 17-6 down was probably a bit too far away for us, especially with what they had coming off the bench."