England tour of South Africa
Lancaster backs Tuilagi to shine
June 15, 2012
Manu Tuilagi will move from outside centre © PA Photos
Stuart Lancaster believes Manu Tuilagi will remain a key to England defeating South Africa on Saturday, despite moving him to inside centre.
Lancaster has shifted Tuilagi from outside centre to 12 for the second Test in Johannesburg. With Brad Barritt injured and Jonathan Joseph earning a full debut at 13, Tuilagi will have to adapt quickly to different responsibilities to help England level the series against the Springboks.
"Clearly he's got a different role to play, both defensively and in attack," Lancaster said. "At 13 we wanted to get him across the gainline but didn't quite achieve that last week, I felt.
"We're moving him a bit closer in to the set-piece and obviously there are one or two areas we can use him there, clearly in attack, and defensively as well. It's a different job defending at 12 so we've done a lot of work to make sure he's ready for it.
"Manu has some experience at 12. He hasn't played all of his rugby there by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly we're confident in the work we've done and his understanding of the game.
"In the centre partnership, when he played at 13 he would often end up carrying the ball in that 12 channel, so we're comfortable with what Manu's rugby pedigree gives him and what he can offer the team."
Tuilagi's move is one of five changes, both positional and in terms of personnel, that Lancaster has made. Ben Foden moves to full-back following injury to Mike Brown with David Strettle taking his place on the left flank, while Joseph replaces Barritt and Toby Flood comes in for Owen Farrell.
Lancaster has been pleased with how Farrell has responded to the disappointment of being dropped to the bench after starting at fly-half in the first Test. "He took the news in exactly the way I hoped he would, in an extremely professional way," he said.
"He has trained fantastically well since and has been an example to me of how a player should treat a disappointment and how they should respond, so credit to him for that. But the reality is that we have not dropped him from the 22 so there is a very good chance he will play a big part as game goes on."
In related news, Leicester's Thomas Waldrom has been drafted onto the bench for the Ellis Park clash after fellow back-row forward Phil Dowson was ruled out of action with a tight hamstring. Waldrom, man-of-the-match against the South Africa Southern Barbarians in Kimberley, will wear the No.19 jersey.
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