Manu Tuilagi’s return to England action impresses Red Rose teammates ahead of autumn opener against South Africa

MANU TUILAGI is primed to make a block-busting return to England duty – and his teammates believe he can win them the World Cup.

The box office Red Rose centre is fit and firing for an Autumn series for the first time since destroying the All Blacks in 2012.

 Manu Tuilagi looks to be gunning for South Africa

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Manu Tuilagi looks to be gunning for South Africa
 Tuilagi has hit some form at Leicester Tigers and has managed to stay fit

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Tuilagi has hit some form at Leicester Tigers and has managed to stay fit

Battering-ram Tuilagi, 27, has featured just once under boss Eddie Jones – when he stepped off the bench Wales in the 2016 Six Nations – after being plagued by knee, thigh, pec and shoulder problems.

And ahead of Saturday's clash with South Africa, full-back Mike Brown said: "Manu is such a special player.

"It’s great to have that sort of player with us again. He’s a great player and on his day and we need those sort of players if we want to go on and win the World Cup, so it’s great to see him back."

Samoan-born Tuilagi weighs in at more than 17 stone of raw muscle and will be confirmed as part of England's matchday squad when Eddie Jones trims down his Portugal camp today.

But it is the way he can bounce of defenders and break tackles, as well as put in the big hits and fix defenders, which Jones will look to use him for.

Brown added: "Manu is such a powerful man with an off-loading game and an ability to get over the gainline and cause havoc for defences.

"If defences focus on him there will be spaces elsewhere, but if they don’t look after him, he can easily beat a man with his power.

"He can beat two men with his power. He’s a unique player and it’s great to have him back in the squad."

 England fans can't wait to see Tuilagi in action again

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England fans can't wait to see Tuilagi in action again

Leicester Tigers teammate Ben Youngs said: "People are getting excited about Manu being back in the squad and they are right to be.
"I want the best for England and the best for my mate and I’m just so glad he’s back here again. He’s a game-changer. Australia have got Israel Folau who can make something out of nothing and win you a game. Manu is that person for England.
"But we’ve got to be smart in how we use him. We’re all talking about Manu so South Africa are probably about Manu too. Those first engagements are always pretty ferocious, but hopefully he is involved.

"He’s going to attract defenders, so then we can either use him as a decoy or as a punch guy for us. It’s really exciting."

Danny Cipriani axed from England's autumn internationals squad despite injury crisis

England have struggled for a world-class Test match animal at outside centre with Elliot Daly preferred on the wing or full-back and Jonathan Joseph now injured.

Henry Slade started all three games against the Springboks this summer, but the Exeter Chiefs man is more suited to a passing or kicking game and can't break the mainline like terror some Tuilagi.

So with Billy Vunipola and his older brother Mako out, England are desperately short of ball carriers.

Vice-captain and fly-half Owen Farrell said: "Manu is pretty unique.

 Owen Farrell says Manu Tuilagi's return is a huge boost

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Owen Farrell says Manu Tuilagi's return is a huge boost

"He is a game-breaker, in terms of making something happen, it could be out of nothing. So obviously that is exciting."

And back-row Ben Morgan, the man chasing Vunipola's vacant no8 shirt, added: "Manu is a fierce competitor who runs hard.

"He’s a hard man to stop and he can be absolutely destructive. He is a wrecking ball when he gets going like that. He is so explosive.

"And Someone like him can really rally a team and it’s great to see when Manu is at his destructive best like that.

 Ben Morgan can't wait to play with Tuilagi again

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Ben Morgan can't wait to play with Tuilagi again

"To know we have a threat like that is great for us and I’m sure the opposition are looking at it and wondering how they’re going to deal with it."

So there is little surprise that Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus is on red alert for Tuilagi to be brought into England's line-up after their 2-1 series smashing in June.

He added: "He's definitely a threat. He brings that aggression, that directness and physicality and intimidation into the English team. You have to handle it on the day so it will be a challenge."

England rugby head coach Eddie Jones announces 36-man squad for autumn games

 

MANU TUILAGI is primed to make a block-busting return to England duty – and his teammates believe he can win them the World Cup.