Tuilagi to start for Saxons
January 27, 2011
Manu Tuilagi has made a huge impact for Leicester this season at outside centre © Getty Images
Johnnie Beattie Tony Buckley Christian Day James Gaskell Joe Marler Tomas O'Leary Manusamoa Tuilagi Billy Twelvetrees
Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi has taken another step towards representing England at senior level after being named in the Saxons team to face Italy 'A' at Worcester on Saturday, just months after avoiding deportation.
Tuilagi has been promoted from the England Under-20s to start in a Saxons side captained by Chris Robshaw and featuring seven full internationals, including British & Irish Lions Lee Mears and Ugo Monye. The 19-year-old is the sixth brother of the Tuilagi dynasty, four of whom have played for their native Samoa, but his allegiance lies with England.
Tuilagi played age-group rugby for his adopted country but his dream of an England future appeared to be in ruins last summer when the Home Office ruled he was not allowed to stay in the UK.
It emerged that Tuilagi had originally entered the country on a six-month holiday visa when the family relocated to Leicester six years ago. Tuilagi's case was backed by local MPs and in July the Home Office granted him indefinite leave to stay, allowing him to play professionally for Leicester and dream of England once again.
On Saturday, Tuilagi will form an all-Leicester midfield, with Billy Twelvetrees making his own debut for England's second string at inside centre. Harlequins prop Joe Marler, Sale flanker James Gaskell and Northampton lock Christian Day will also make their first Saxons starts.
"It's an exciting group and we've got a bit of everything in the squad," said coach Stuart Lancaster. "These players have got everything to play for in a World Cup year and they know it."
Meanwhile Johnnie Beattie will start for Scotland 'A' against Ireland Wolfhounds at Netherdale on Friday in a bid to boost his match fitness and fight for a place in Scotland's senior side for the rest of the Six Nations after returning from a shoulder injury.
Munster pair Tomas O'Leary and Tony Buckley will start for the Wolfhounds. Scrum-half O'Leary and prop Buckley feature for the second string after being omitted from Ireland's Six Nations squad. Connacht's Gavin Duffy starts at fullback while Ulster number eight Chris Henry leads the side.
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