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Tuilagi tipped for bright future

England Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster praised the "special talent" of Leicester teenager Manu Tuilagi after his team's seven-try demolition of Italy A at Sixways.

The 19-year-old centre claimed one of the Saxons' touchdowns during a 45-17 success as he continued his rapid rise in the English game.

Lancaster said: "Manu has got great potential. He has pushed his way through into the Leicester first team, which is no mean feat, and in addition to that he's now performing consistently well for them. To do that at 19 years old indicates he has got some talent."

Tuilagi, who qualifies for England on residency, has recovered from the turmoil of a Home Office ruling last summer that 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 his family relocated to Leicester six years ago, but he was then granted indefinite leave to stay following backing from local MPs.

And England senior team manager Martin Johnson could soon start reaping the benefits, with a place in England's World Cup squad later this year possibly not beyond Tuilagi if he continues to perform so destructively on a consistent basis.

Lancaster added: "With all young players, it's never a straight line upwards, but we have been very impressed with Manu this week in terms of his ability to adapt into a new environment. We've been really impressed with how quickly he has adapted and got up to speed."

Gloucester wing James Simpson-Daniel, nine years Tuilagi's senior, also took the chance to showcase his impressive form this season, scoring two tries, while there were touchdowns for Mike Brown, Ugo Monye, James Gaskell and Paul Hodgson.

"It's always difficult when you meet on a Monday after a big European weekend, and you try to create a team and a style of play in three days," added Lancaster. "Across the board, there was probably something to say about every player, but there were also lots of things we could have done better.

"We are pleased, but recognise we have got to step up another 20% for next Friday because it's going to be a massive challenge over in Belfast against Ireland A."


From Belfast Telegraph