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Tuilagi can make the step up – Flood

22 June 2011

  • Flood backs Tuilagi to impress at Rugby World Cup training camp
  • You could throw him into a Test match tomorrow says fly half
Leicester Tigers centre Manusamoa Tuilagi taking part in England Rugby World Cup training camp at Pennyhill Park

Photo: Getty Images

England and Leicester Tigers fly half Toby Flood believes Welford Road teammate Manusamoa Tuilagi can make the step up to Test rugby in the next few months.

The outside centre was widely criticised at the end of the domestic season after receiving a five-week ban for striking Chris Ashton in the Aviva Premiership semi final.

The 20-year-old subsequently apologised for the incident and has been called into Martin Johnson’s 45-man Rugby World Cup preliminary training squad.

And Flood, who has started England’s last 12 Tests at No.10, is convinced that the youngest brother from the Samoan rugby dynasty has the skills and temperament to make an immediate impact at the highest level.

"He has been outstanding," Flood said. "You could throw him into a Test match tomorrow. He wouldn't let it affect him.

"He might make a couple of mistakes but he would also do some fantastic things. He is really dynamic in the back line. He has a good structure around him, his family has an incredible heritage in the game and he keeps himself to himself.

"He is a quiet young man and he has handled himself very well this season. The good thing is he is English so we don't need to worry about playing against him!"

England the right environment

England fly half Toby Flood celebrates a Leicester Tigers try with Manusamoa Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Anthony Allen

Photo: Getty Images

Tuilagi, whose four older brothers all played for Samoa, has lived in Leicester since he was 13 and has committed his international future to England.

In August he could pull on a Test jersey for the first time when England face Wales in the Investec International at Twickenham Stadium on August 6, before they travel to Wales for the return Test a week later.

Tuilagi looks likely to make his England debut in one of those matches, after which Johnson will trim his 45-man squad to the final 30 who will travel to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Flood thinks his confidence will only improve in the England environment, adding: "The more involvement he has with the England set-up, the more confident he will get and the more knowledge he will get in terms of the game and emotional management.

"He is learning from guys who have 60 or 70 Tests and I have no doubt he will step up."

Sky Sports