There are two big reasons for England fans to be optimistic ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup – Manu Tuilagi and Jonny Wilkinson.

Sensational Samoan-born Leicester Tigers centre Tuilagi has been the find of the season and his raw power will be a potent weapon for England in New Zealand.

But just as crucial is the return to the top of his game by 2003 World Cup winner ‘Wilko’.

There is no substitute for experience at the top level and England’s rejuvenated fly-half is playing some of the best rugby of his career to edge ahead of Toby Flood in the race for the starting line-up.

England may be outsiders at the upcoming tournament. But the men who wear that famous red rose have caused upsets before at the World Cup. And to use some boxing imagery, they have big hitters in the side who are capable of delivering that knockout blow when it really matters

– BY JOHN GUBBA

Tuilagi punches Ashton
Tuilagi punches Ashton

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