Flood backs ‘dynamic’ Tuilagi for England

England and Leicester Tigers fly half Toby Flood has backed his Welford Road teammate Manusamoa (Mani) Tuilagi to make an impact on the international stage over the coming months.


The outside centre has been heavily criticised after he was given a five-week back for punching Northampton Saints and England winger Chris Ashton in the Aviva Premiership semi final.


The twenty-year-old has since apologised for the incident and has been called up for Martin Johnson’s 45-man preliminary Rugby World Cup training squad.


Flood who is England’s first choice fly half having started the last 12 test for England is convinced that Tuilagi has the skills and temperament to make an immediate impact at the highest level.


“He has been outstanding,” Flood said on the RFU site.


“You could throw him into a Test match tomorrow. He wouldn’t let it affect him.


“He might make a couple of mistakes but he would also do some fantastic things. “


“He is really dynamic in the back line. He has a good structure around him, his family has an incredible heritage in the game and he keeps himself to himself.


“He is a quiet young man and he has handled himself very well this season. “


“The good thing is he is English so we don’t need to worry about playing against him!”


Tuilagi is the youngest in a line of five rugby playing brothers who have all played for Samoa but Mani has lived in Leicester since he was 13 and is committed to playing for England.


The Tigers centre could make his debut for England against Wales at Twickenham Stadium on August the 6th or a week later in the return match against Wales in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium.


After the series Johnson will have to cut his 45-man squad to the final 30 who will represent England at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in September.


Flood says he thinks Tuliagi’s confidence will only improve in the England environment.


“The more involvement he has with the England set-up, the more confident he will get and the more knowledge he will get in terms of the game and emotional management.


“He is learning from guys who have 60 or 70 Tests and I have no doubt he will step up.”

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