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Tuilagi set for Saxons start

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi will make his England Saxons debut against Italy A at Worcester on Saturday just months after avoiding deportation.

Tuilagi has been promoted from the England Under-20s to start in a Saxons side captained by Chris Robshaw and featuring seven full internationals, including Lions Lee Mears and Ugo Monye.

The 19-year-old is the sixth brother of the Tuilagi dynasty, four of whom have played for their native Samoa, but his allegiance lies with England.

Tuilagi played age-group rugby for his adopted country but his dream of an England future appeared to be in ruins last summer when the Home Office ruled he was not allowed to stay in the UK.

It emerged that Tuilagi had originally entered the country on a six-month holiday visa when the family relocated to Leicester six years ago.

Tuilagi's case was backed by local MPs and in July the Home Office granted him indefinite leave to stay, allowing him to play professionally for Leicester and dream of England once again.

On Saturday, Tuilagi will form an all-Leicester midfield, with Billy Twelvetrees making his own debut for England's second string at inside centre.

Harlequins prop Joe Marler, Sale flanker James Gaskell and Northampton lock Christian Day will also make their first Saxons starts.

England Saxons team: M Brown (Harlequins); J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Twelvetrees (Leicester), U Monye (Harlequins); S Myler (Northampton), R Wigglesworth (Saracens); J Marler (Harlequins), L Mears (Bath), A Corbisiero (London Irish), G Kitchener (Worcester Warriors), C Day (Northampton), J Gaskell (Sale Sharks), C Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), L Narraway (Gloucester).

Replacements: J Buckland (London Irish), D Bell (Bath), G Robson (Harlequins), A Saull (Saracens), P Hodgson (London Irish), B Barritt (Saracens), O Morgan (Gloucester).


From Belfast Telegraph