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VIDEO – Chastening Clermont lesson prepares Tuilagi for Paris

10 March 2012

  • Manu Tuilagi has used difficult afternoon in Clermont as preparation
  • Centre says he and Brad Barritt are ready for Fofana and Rougerie

Manu Tuilagi is fully aware of the challenge awaiting England in Paris on Sunday afternoon after absorbing the lessons of a chastening afternoon with Leicester Tigers on his last visit to France.

The 20-year-old travelled to Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup but was sin binned as Leicester were roundly dismissed 30-12 on route to exiting the tournament at the group stage.

Speaking to RFUtv about the intense atmosphere which greeted him at the Stade Marcel Michelin, the eight-cap centre said: "It’s helped prepare me. Playing against the French teams you get the idea of how France play. It was pretty much what I expected and hopefully it will be alright at the weekend.

"It’s going to be a massive game for us, we’re looking forward to going there and doing the best we can and beating them would be a massive thing for us. And for me, getting the opportunity is an honour."

On that day in December, Tuilagi faced France and Clermont midfield pair Wesley Fofana and Aurelien Rougerie, with Fofana announcing his arrival on the European stage with a clinical brace of tries.

 The 24-year-old has continued that form with three tries in three games in this season’s RBS 6 Nations and although Tuilagi respects the complimentary skills of the centre partnership, he says England are ready to meet the confrontation head on.

England  centre Manu Tuilagi during training

Photo: Getty Images

Tuilagi, who played his part in Leicester's 23-19 in the return game at Welford Road, said: "They’re world class players and two different players. 

"Fofana has quick feet and Rougerie is a big guy who will try and be direct so it’s definitely a challenge but Brad [Barriit] and I will deal with that.

"We pride ourselves on defence and attack at the same time so hopefully we’ll make some tackles and carry so balls at the weekend."

After recovering from a hamstring injury, Tuilagi made his Six Nations debut in the 19-12 defeat to Wales last time out and immediately looked back to his best in breaking tackles and gaining yards with a series of strong carries.

Tuilagi believes the speed and intensity of the Aviva Premiership has eased the transition and revealed he thought he was going to cap his return with a comeback try, only to be denied by a superb Sam Warburton tackle.

He said: "Obviously international level is really tough but the Premiership nowadays is really quick as well so having had three games for Leicester before I came back really prepared me for the game against Wales.

"I definitely thought I was in but what a fantastic tackle from Warburton. He just dived at my boots and was holding on, what a tackle."