Tuilagi: ‘Bring on the Boks’

Alesana ‘Alex’ Tuilagi, Samoa’s star winger, has laid down the challenge to South Africa when the two countries meet in their opening World Cup match, in Paris on September 9.

Samoa, coached by legendary former All Black Michael Jones, just completed their pre-World Cup camp in Leicester, England.

The camp included matches against English clubs Harlequins, Northampton and the Sale Sharks.

The team departs for Paris on Friday, August 31.

Tuilagi readily admits that they are in a “tough” group – Pool A – but feels they will be up for the challenge.

“The top teams will be England and South Africa, but we will be ready for them come September,” Tuilagi said.

Asked what’s the single most important factor that will help the Samoan team succeed, his answer was forthright.

“Total commitment and equally importantly – team spirit. That’s how the Samoa team can thrive.”

Tuilagi, who started his rugby career as a six-year-old playing on the beach with friends in his village, Fatausi in Samoa, said he is mentally and physically prepare for the World Cup.

“I’ve been keeping in shape and that’s the most important. And there has been plenty of rest between training sessions, not to forget a strong mental focus.”

The 113kg giant, who has gained eight international caps since his debut for Samoa in their World Cup qualifier against Fiji in June 2002, says he prepares for games with “a 12-hour fast, with no food before each game”.

Tuilagi certainly has a knack for scoring tries. He set a Zurich A League record by scoring five tries for Leicester in the game against Leeds in September 2004 and scored four tries in the Test against Tonga in Apia this year.

Meanwhile, when the Boks face Samoa on September 9 they will face a fired up Pacific island team kitted in a new jersey which bares the traditional body tattoo of Freddie Tuilagi – one of three Tuilagi brothers in the side.

The Samoan squad features Andy, Henry and Alex Tuilagi, three brothers from the Pacific island who will be playing together for the first time at a World Cup.

In Samoa, the traditional body tattoo, or “tatau,” is a symbol of honour, family and courage, and the new Samoan jersey incorporates Tuilagi’s traditional “tatau” pattern and motif onto the kit the team will wear at the World Cup.


365 Digital

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