Manu Tuilagi gets centre spot for England

He will make his debut alongside the New Zealand-born Flutey against Wales, as both teams warm-up and prepare squads for the Rugby World Cup.

Manu Tuilagi, the Samoa-born centre, will make his first rugby union appearance for England after Martin Johnson, the manager, included him in the starting team to face Wales at Twickenham tomorrow.

The 20 year old, whose five brothers have all played for Samoa, qualifies through residency and will line up alongside the New Zealand-born Riki Flutey in midfield in the first of England's three World Cup warm-up games.

The uncapped 21-year-old Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples was named among the replacements and Matt Stevens wins his first cap at prop since 2008 following his return from a two-year doping ban.

Delon Armitage, who was suspended for eight weeks in January for abusing a doping official and banned again for three weeks for punching, was also given his chance to redeem himself with a start at fullback.

Lewis Moody, the flanker who missed England's Six Nations campaign with a knee injury, returns to captain the side. Mike Tindall, the stand-in captain who got married last weekend to Zara Phillips was left out.

With Ben Youngs injured, Danny Care starts at scrum-half alongside Jonny Wilkinson.

Mark Cueto and Matt Banahan, who Johnson likes for his flexibility having used him at centre, fill the wing berths.

It is Tuilagi, however, who will be the main talking point among the sell-out 82,000 crowd tomorrow.

He made a huge impact in every sense in his first season at Leicester, where his pace, power and determination blasted through some of the best defences in the land.

However, he missed the last five weeks of the season having been suspended for assaulting England teammate Chris Ashton with a flurry of punches during his team's Premiership semi-final win over Northampton.

A good showing tomorrow would give Tuilagi a great chance to make the final World Cup squad where he could deliver the X-factor ingredient that England could well need to keep their opponents guessing.

England face Wales again in Cardiff on August 13 before completing their preparations against Ireland in Dublin on August 27.

For the game tomorrow, Wales recalled centre Jamie Roberts and experienced winger Shane Williams on Thursday for the World Cup warm-up match against England at Twickenham on Saturday.Fly-half Stephen Jones will make his 101st test appearance, becoming his country's most-capped player.

Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn Jones resume their second-row partnership, with Ryan Jones and Luke Charteris dropping to the bench, and full-back Rhys Priestland replaced Morgan Stoddard.

Published: August 5, 2011 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one