Just as Will Carling famously described Jonah Lomu as a ‘freak’ at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa – Mike Tindall has paid the same ‘accolade’ to his England team-mate Manu Tuilagi after his devastating display in the 67-3 rout of Romania.
Tuilagi may not have yet trampled over his opposition in quite the way the former All Black wing did against England in the semi-final 16 years ago, but the Samoa-born midfielder is making his presence felt.
Intriguingly, Tuilagi is a completely different beast from England’s greatest ever try scorer Rory Underwood – one of the backs demolished by Lomu all those years ago – but there is already the belief that the 20-year-old can break all records.
Tuilagi, who has four brothers that have represented Samoa, has only been a Test player for five matches. But he has already scored four tries, including one of England’s 10 in their Pool B romp against Romania at the Otago Stadium on Saturday.
Qualified to play for England on residency grounds, Tuilagi only made his Premiership debut in September last year but went on to score seven tries in 20 league matches for Underwood’s former team Leicester Tigers.
As Tindall, moved from outside to inside centre to accommodate Tuilagi in England’s World Cup team, said after his display against Romania: “Manu is getting better and better so it will take something to go wrong to knock him out of that spot.
“He’s a freak to be honest, in the nicest possible way. The power he’s got and his feet and that little change of pace…He’s got a massive fend and it just makes it difficult for people to tackle him.
“Even if people do tackle him he’s always half-through and we can play off quick ball. He’s a handful.”
Manu Tuilagi is an awesome talent who can make his mark on the 2011 Rugby World Cup . . .