ENGLAND centre Manu Tuilagi insists he’s perfectly at ease with being described as “a freak” by his team-mate Mike Tindall.
The 20-year-old Samoan-born powerhouse has burst onto the international scene, adding an element of bite to England’s midfield, not to mention the try-scoring ability which has yielded four scores in his first five Tests.
Standing at 6ft 1in and weighing in at over 16 stone, the Leicester Tigers star represents a fearsome physical specimen. Tindall, no shrinking violet himself, was taken aback by his midfield partner’s destructive display against Romania last week, but Tuilagi was happy with his colleague’s choice of adjective.
“I take that as a compliment,” said Tuilagi, ahead of Saturday’s crunch Pool B showdown against Scotland. “I will just go there and play my normal game, play to my strengths and be tough. I am looking forward to it.
“I like to get nervous before the games but not too much. It keeps you alert and you know you are thinking about the game.
“Scotland are very direct and I think their loss against Argentina will make them even more hard to beat because they need this win – but we need this win as well.
“This is not a Six Nations game – it is a World Cup and it will be a different animal.”
Tuilagi could have been forgiven for being distracted ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Scotland as a result of the rumours circulating about his club future and a potential move to a Super 15 side.
Should such a switch come to fruition, Tuilagi would be barred from representing his adopted country under new Rugby Football Union regulations due to be enforced after the World Cup. But Tuilagi insists his immediate future lies in England with Leicester.
He said: “I am really happy to be at Leicester. I am loving playing rugby for England. This is my first World Cup and hopefully it won’t be my last. When you do something you like, you want to do it all your life.”