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Tuilagi glad to be back in England

Alesana Tuilagi says it was "an easy decision" to leave Japan and make an Aviva Premiership return with Newcastle.

The juggernaut wing lines up for a first league start when the Falcons face Premiership champions Northampton at Kingston Park on Sunday.

And the 33-year-old hopes he can leave his mark in a Newcastle side seeking their first win of the season following losses to Tuilagi's former club Leicester and London Irish.

"It was an easy decision for me to come back," said Samoa international Tuilagi, who joined Newcastle from the NTT Shining Arcs.

"It's great to be back here and playing at this level again, especially with the World Cup next year.

"The World Cup being here was definitely a factor in coming back. It was a great opportunity to get a feel for rugby here again.

"It's been good so far, and a new place entirely for me. The talent is good and it seems like a good set-up."

Falcons rugby director Dean Richards has made four changes from the side beaten 20-18 by Irish, including starts for Tuilagi, prop Scott Wilson and lock Dom Barrow.

"Northampton had a great season last season, which obviously showed with them winning the Premiership title," Richards said.

"We know that Sunday will be a challenge for us, but the boys are looking forward to the game and to testing ourselves against a strong Northampton side."

After starting the campaign with a 53-6 demolition of Gloucester, Northampton came unstuck against Wasps last weekend, losing narrowly at Adams Park.

"After building the game up so well, I think our mindset changed and we played into their hands a bit much, going away from our game," Saints' Wales wing George North said.

"They tried to front-up against us and we played into that. When they've got so many people up on the front-line it meant there was space out wide that we didn't exploit.

"The two tries they scored knocked the stuffing out of us a bit.

"You can't really play for the interception (Wasps forward Ashley Johnson's try), but we got caught napping on the second one, so that was a 14-point swing in the game.

"It's been a tough week, but we've got to front-up again and keep that tempo high this early in the season."

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder has made four changes - three behind the scrum - as full-back Ben Foden, fly-half Will Hooley and scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i all start, together with prop Alex Waller.


From Belfast Telegraph