Cockerill: Tuilagi greater threat at 13
July 25, 2012
Tuilagi appeared at inside centre for England in South Africa © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers will not follow England in moving Manu Tuilagi to inside centre with director of rugby Richard Cockerill insisting the midfield powerhouse is more of a threat at No.13.
The 21-year-old began his international career at outside centre, where he operates for the Tigers, but moved to inside centre for the second and third Tests of England's summer tour of South Africa. Cockerill, though, believes Tuilagi will make a bigger impact further out, where there is more space and more opportunities to make line breaks.
"England see him as an inside-centre but we are unlikely to play him there," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. "That is because Anthony Allen has done well for us there and Dan Bowden will do well for us this year too.
"It is also because Manu's threat at inside-centre is a bit restricted. In our opinion and for our team, there is more space at outside-centre and he is more of a threat.
"What England do is up to them. His physicality is really good, he just needs to learn exactly when to pass and when to carry. Defensively, he is getting better all the time."
Tuilagi, who began pre-season training at Oval Park this week, received what Cockerill described as unfair criticism towards the end of the last campaign as he struggled to make the anticipated impact at club and international level. Cockerill insists the player remains on an upward curve, saying Tuilagi's true impact is often misunderstood just like his older brother Alesana was.
"People were happy to say how great he was for 12 months and then they were trying to pick faults with him," said Cockerill. "There was a bit of unfair criticism of Manu at the end of last season.
"Alesana got the same when he was playing here. People would say that he had a quiet game but the opposition would be trying to tie him up and, while they were doing that, it would create holes for other people.
"Manu is still very young and has only just turned 21. He will get better and better as his understanding of the game increases. It is good to have him back here and the environment we have certainly doesn't let him get above himself.
"As soon as all the England players get back from Test duty, they get stick for being 'big time'. Our Test boys want to play for us and do well for Leicester and that is important. They like coming back and being involved in the club."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success