Flood: Tuilagi ready to step up
Manu Tuilagi has the right temperament for Test match rugby according to Leicester team-mate Toby Flood.
Last Updated: 21/06/11 7:12pm
Manu Tuilagi has the right temperament for Test match rugby according to Leicester team-mate and England fly-half Toby Flood.
The Tigers centre came under intense criticism for punching Chris Ashton in the face during the Aviva Premiership semi-final.
But, despite still being banned for the offence, the 20-year-old has been called into England's World Cup training squad.
Tuilagi apologised for the incident that saw him land a three-punch combination and left the England and Northampton winger requiring stitches - but many felt the five-week ban was too light.
Flood, however, remains convinced that the youngest brother from the Samoan rugby dynasty is ready to take the step up to Test rugby.
"He has been outstanding," he 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!"
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.
And in August he could well pull on a Test jersey for the first time when England face Wales at home and away at the end of a five-week training camp.
Tuilagi looks likely to make his England debut in one of those matches, after which manager Martin Johnson will trim his 45-man squad to the final 30 who will travel to the World Cup.
"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," said Flood.
"He is learning from guys who have 60 or 70 Tests and I have no doubt he will step up."