Manu Tuilagi is an x-factor player, says Jonathan Davies
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 09/03/16 4:28pm
Manu Tuilagi has been described as "an x-factor player" ahead of his anticipated Test match return with England.
Powerful Leicester centre Tuilagi looks set to be named on England's bench for their crunch Six Nations clash against fellow title contenders Wales at Twickenham.
If, as expected, he makes an appearance on Saturday it would be his first taste of international rugby for almost 21 months following long-term injury trouble.
And Wales centre Jonathan Davies, who will continue his prodigious midfield partnership with Jamie Roberts, knows what Tuilagi can offer.
"He is definitely an x-factor player," said Davies, who started all three Tests of the 2013 British and Irish Lions' tour to Australia and briefly played alongside Tuilagi in the deciding Sydney encounter which Warren Gatland's men won 41-16.
I have played with him before, and he is extremely strong and powerful, but he has great subtleties in his game as well.
Jonathan Davies on Manu Tuilagi
"I have played with him before, and he is extremely strong and powerful, but he has great subtleties in his game as well.
"I am sure England would want to throw him in there on Saturday, but whether they do is down to them. He has shown in the past that he has little subtleties - his offloading game, and stuff like that.
"Obviously, he is hard to bring down when he gets going but he creates space for other people because of the threats he has.
"Whoever they put in, you have just got to make sure you prepare well and get ready mentally and physically, because you know you are in for a tough day at the office."
Wales head to south-west London on the back of two wins and a draw in this season's Six Nations, and knowing that a fourth Twickenham victory over England since Gatland took charge eight years ago would put silverware within touching distance.
Six Nations strugglers Italy are Wales' final opponents on Saturday week at the Principality Stadium - a ground where the Azzurri have never won - with two more points then guaranteeing Wales a fourth Six Nations title of Gatland's reign.
"There is a lot more to come," added Davies. "If you look at the videos, we are creating opportunities but leaving them out there, which is disappointing, but we are creating and that's positive.
"We are always talking about execution, but it's about delivering that when the pressure is on so we can take the opportunities.
"The game goes so quick, you have to scan on the run and make sure that you identify space and mis-matches as soon as possible, really. Awareness and accuracy under pressure, that's the big thing, I think, for us this week.
"People talk about going away from home being a daunting prospect, but, personally, I enjoy going to these big stadiums with big crowds, taking it in and relishing the opportunity. Twickenham is a great place to play rugby, and an even better place to win."
Davies was recovering from a serious knee injury and working as a television pundit when Wales posted a 28-25 World Cup pool win against England on their last Twickenham trip almost six months ago.
And the 51 times-capped Clermont Auvergne player knows the result has no real significance ahead of the 128th meeting between two of world rugby's fiercest rivals.
"I am sure the boys enjoyed the win during the World Cup, but that could be used as a positive by England to get them going. It's in the past, and England have a new coaching set-up and have changed their philosophies," he said.
"For us, it's about concentrating on our own performance and working hard. If we win on Saturday, it puts us in a good place to regain the title.
"What was pleasing against France was that our defence stepped up a couple of gears from where it was at the start of the tournament.
"Traditionally, that has won us tournaments, so it's good to see it has come back to where it was. That said, we need to take it to another level because England have some huge threats."