- England centre recalls stunning try against France
- Tom Croft could “play in the backs with a finish like that” says Tuilagi
Having been denied a try against Wales by a last-gasp Sam Warburton tackle, Manu Tuilagi made sure there was no repeat at the Stade de France as he steamed up the pitch in blistering fashion to score England’s opening try in their historic win.
In the sunshine at Pennyhill Park, the Leicester Tigers man smiled as he recalled the try which set England up for their first win in Paris since 2008 but was typically laid-back about his effort.
“I just remember there was a box kick from Lee Dickson and everyone went up for the ball and it was a turnover,” the 20-year-old told RFUtv. “I remember just running back to try and make the cover tackle and all of a sudden I saw Ashy [Chris Ashton] just go flying in and smash their hooker and I was leading up the ball and Dickson just gave it to me. I looked up and there was no-one in front of me so I thought I’d go for it – might as well.
“And I got there this time. [There was] no-one was holding on to my shirt or my boots.”
Photo: Getty Images
He makes it sound easy, but Tuilagi had to deal with Aurélien Rougerie and Vincent Clerc bearing down on him as he neared the try-line and says it was “instinct” that made him to jump to avoid Rougerie’s tackle.
The try was England’s first of the day with Ben Foden and Tom Croft also adding their names to the score sheet in the 24-22 victory.
Croft showed his pace and power to cut between Rougerie and Imanol Harinordoquy before rounding Clement Poitrenaud to score his stunning individual try with ten minutes to go.
Tuilagi joked that the flanker’s try was “flukey” before giving his Leicester team mate some well-deserved praise.
“Crofty – he can finish,” Tuilagi said. “He could play in the backs with a finish like that. It was an amazing try.”
He also praised wing Ashton for his work across the pitch saying the fact that the Northampton Saints man hadn’t scored a try for England in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations did not matter as it was the turnover ball from Ashton’s crunching tackle on hooker Dimitri Szarzewski that led to the opening score.
“Everyone is talking about Ashy not scoring tries but it’s not all about scoring tries,” Tuilagi added. “He is doing a lot of other good things as well.”
Photo: Getty Images
Turning his thoughts to the game against Ireland on Saturday, Tuilagi said playing at Twickenham in front of home fans was always a “special occasion”.
The game will see England’s backs line up opposite the Ireland centre pairing of Keith Earls and Gordon D’Arcy whose quick footwork pose a different challenge from French powerhouse Rougerie, who Tuilagi exchanged shirts with following the France victory.
“It’s going to be a very different game,” Tuilagi explained. “It’s going to be a different challenge. Obviously they are different players, a different style of play. They have got quick feet. It’s going to be for me just try and shut down the space and not give them too much space to work their footwork.”