Tuilagi should prepare for a Sackey-ing

Wasps winger Paul Sackey demanded extra tackling practice this week to prepare him for his Heineken Cup final collision with Leicester wrecking-ball Alesana Tuilagi.

Tuilagi spearheaded Leicester’s 44-16 rout of Gloucester last Saturday with a destructive display of running that helped the Tigers complete the second leg of an unprecedented treble, and it is not the first time Tuilagi demolished the way for his team-mates to get through.

The rampaging Samoan winger, who weighs 19 stones, scored two tries and caused havoc whenever he touched the ball last weekend, and Sackey has been given the job of shackling Tuilagi on Sunday in what appears an almighty mismatch given he concedes nearly five stones to his opponent.

But the England back has been doing extra defensive work all week, knocking down Wasps’ biggest players such as Simon Shaw and Lawrence Dallaglio in the hope it will ready him for the eagerly-awaited European showdown.

And while he admits his preparations are no substitute for the real thing, he is determined to bring down his man by any means possible.

“I’m going to stop Tuilagi by tackling him. Rugby is a simple game – you make your tackles and you do your job,” he said.

“This week I’ve done extra tackling practice on the bigger guys so that I’m ready for Tuilagi.

“I’ve been tackling some of our big forwards – people like Shaw and Dallaglio – although I know Tuilagi is a lot different to those guys because he’s quick as well as massive.

“I’ve been focusing just on the bigger guys this week. Shaw is tall and wide so it’s a start, but Tuilagi has a step, hand-off and a few other weapons in his armoury.

“You can try and get someone to imitate him but ultimately they won’t be Tuilagi.

“My only objective is to get him on the floor. That’s all you can do. Technique doesn’t really come into it.

“You just have to do what you can, whether that means jumping on his back or taking his legs out – as long as he’s on the floor.”

Sackey’s week may have been dominated by plans to halt Tuilagi but the 27-year-old stresses he will not be running out at Twickenham with the sole ambition of defending.

An elusive runner who slips through gaps rather than steamrollering opponents, Sackey has scored 15 tries in 18 games this season and is joint highest try-scorer in the Heineken Cup.

“For me this game isn’t just about defending. We want to get the ball and I want to have a run at them,” he said.

“Everyone is going on about Leicester and their wingers but if we do our job we’ve got every chance of spoiling their party because we have some dangerous players in the backs too.”

Sackey was impressed by Leicester’s resounding defeat of Gloucester but is confident Wasps will provide far stiffer resistance than the west country club.

“Leicester are a good team who have excellent ball carriers. Their two wingers dominated against Gloucester,” he said.

“I’m not taking anything away from Leicester but Gloucester didn’t really show up on the day. They made Leicester look really good.

“But Leicester took their chances very well and it was an excellent all-round performance by them.

“We know that at the very least we’ll give Leicester a better match than Gloucester did. One-off games like these are hard to predict.

“We’ll give it our all because it’s our last game this season.”


365 Digital

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