Tuilagi the Man-u for England
Manu Tuilagi's remarkable impact on the England camp led to him being selected for the World Cup before he had even played a Test match, it has emerged.
The Leicester centre only broke into the Tigers first team at the start of last season, but he trained with England during the Six Nations. Tuilagi's pace and power caused such a stir that Martin Johnson had inked his name into England's World Cup plans before his debut in the warm-up international win against Wales at Twickenham.
"Manu has been on the radar for a while," said attack coach Brian Smith. "If we see a player we think is going to be an England player we bring them into the training camp."
He added: "We can then see what he is like shoulder-to-shoulder with our current squad - and from what we had seen of Manu, he had the goods.
"It was nice to have that confirmed in his first two performances."
Tuilagi made a try-scoring debut in England's World Cup warm-up victory over Wales at Twickenham, his only appearance before Johnson named his final 30-man squad.
Last Saturday, Tuilagi made his second Test start against Ireland and scored a scintillating try to confirm his status as one of the potential stars of the World Cup.
"He has only played a couple of games for us and he has done very well, he has scored a couple of tries," added Smith.
"He has got lovely hands as well, he is a good offloader. He is an outstanding talent. He is a terrific young bloke to work with. It is a little bit too early to be comparing him with (Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams), they have got more runs on the board.
"But who knows? In a couple of years time we might be talking about him in the same breath as those two."