Cockerill backs Tuilagi to become 'best in the world'
September 10, 2012
Manu Tuilagi grabbed two tries in Leicester's Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester Warriors at Welford Road on Saturday © Getty Images
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has tipped Manu Tuilagi to become the best outside centre in the world within the next 12 months.
The Tigers' director of rugby heaped praise on the 21-year-old after he inspired his side to a 34-26 bonus point victory at Welford Road - their second maximum haul in as many games.
The England international scored two tries to take his tally to three in two games and produced a host of clean breaks and big tackles to the delight of the bumper 19,000 crowd and his boss who believes his match-winner is yet to reach his peak.
"Manu has had his criticism but, within our structure, he has been really good," said Cockerill. "He gets opportunities to run with the ball and his ability to create something from nothing is as good as ever.
"He is quality and is still very young. Myself, Matt O'Connor and everyone here thinks he is going to be around the best No.13 in world rugby within the next 12 months or so.
"We are delighted to have him here, he is a quality player. He needs to keep playing and further understand when to hold on and when to pass it; when to be tighter in defence and when to be a little bit more passive - but that will come. He is quality and we have some real firepower out there in the backs. We just need to harness it and make it accurate."
Cockerill was equally pleased with the performance of Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva who continues to impress having joined the Tigers from French second division side Tarbes in the summer.
"He really wanted to come to us," Cockerill added. "I warned him that it would be hard and that every day would be tough in training, but he was very keen to come to us. A lot of Top 14 clubs were keen on him as well but it wasn't a particularly hard sell.
"It is a bit of a punt because he hasn't played at this level in a side with a lot of structure, but he fits into our game plan very well. He has got some ability and is unpredictable and hopefully will get better during his time here."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles