Wales Plan To Muscle Up In Bid To Stop Manu Tuilagi In His Tracks

Manu Tuilagi during the England training session in London. Pic: Getty Images

Wales Plan To Muscle Up In Bid To Stop Manu Tuilagi In His Tracks

By David Williams

Neil Jenkins says Wales know they must “muscle-up” against Manu Tuilagi when he makes his expected England return on Saturday.

The powerhouse centre has recently recovered from a hamstring injury and is poised for a first Test match appearance since England’s Autumn Nations Series game against world champions South Africa in November.

Wales assistant coach and skills specialist Jenkins worked with Tuilagi on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, and he is fully aware of his threat.

“We need to be mindful of what Manu brings,” Jenkins said.

“He is a very, very good rugby player and very physical. He brings a lot to England when he does play.

“It will be a little bit different with Manu playing, there is no doubting that. Whether he is carrying or a decoy runner, he certainly attracts defenders either way.

“They can use him in a couple of different ways if they need to, and I am sure they will on Saturday.

“One thing is simple, we have to muscle-up on him and show our intent.”

Jenkins also has Lions experience from last summer’s South Africa trip of gifted England fly-half talent Marcus Smith, who is set to oppose Wales for the first time this weekend.

The Harlequins playmaker has made a storming start to his international career, and Jenkins added: “He is a very talented player who seems to have a lot of time on the ball.

“He puts people in holes or is goose-stepping and taking you on. There is his kicking game as well, so he is a big threat to us and one we will have to keep a close eye on.

“It’s a big defensive week for us, as it is with our attack and kicking game and set-piece. There is going to be no hiding place on Saturday, and we are going to have to be ready in every department.”

Wales have not beaten England in the Six Nations at Twickenham since 2012, although they revived title hopes by defeating Scotland last time out after a tame opening weekend loss to Ireland.

“When you look back on history, you don’t tend to remember the performance, you remember the win. That’s what Test match rugby is all about,” Jenkins said.

“I always like to think we get better as the tournament progresses.

“We will certainly have to be at our best on Saturday and front-up in all areas and take the game to England as best as we possibly can.”

“It’s important we start well and stay in the game early on,” said the former Wales outside-half. “As the game progresses, I’d like to think we can impose ourselves on them as well.

“The start is important. They’re a good outfit, a good side and they’ve got some players coming back with a bit of experience, which will make them a little bit stronger.

“It’s a tough game, there’s no doubting that. We’re under no illusions but it’s something we’re really looking forward to as well.

“It’s a real good challenge for ourselves to see where we’re at.” Jenkins has been involved in some famous victories over England as a player, and as a coach.

In 1999 he kicked a late conversion which sealed an historic win over Sir Clive Woodward’s side at Wembley, while he was also part of the coaching side when Wales won at Twickenham in 2012 and 2015, respectively. When asked what the secret is to win at Twickenham Jenkins pulls no punched, and insists it’s all down to hard work.

“You have to play well, it’s plain and simple,” he said. “There is no easy way about it.

“In 2012, I remember winning that game but it was a very tough game. Scott Williams’ brilliance to win us the game and then some heroic defence to win us the Triple Crown that year.

“2015 was the same, just staying in that World Cup. We were under pressure for long periods of that game but Biggsy (Dan Biggar) kept us in the game.

“Gar’s (Gareth Davies) try later on was huge but there is no easy way about it. You have to be incredibly physical, you have to be incredibly disciplined and you have to take your chances when they come.

“It’s going to come on Saturday, they’re going to have chances but we’ve got to be defending well and when our opportunities come we need to take them. It’s plain and simple.

“We need to be ready mentally and physically because it’s going to be a tough afternoon. Everybody knows how big of a game it is.

“It’s not just a Wales-England perspective, it’s the Six Nations perspective as well. If we come out on top, it’s a good opportunity for us to go on and be competitive in the rest of the championship.”

Wales called world class No 8 Taulupe Faletau into the squad on Monday, after the Bath star impressed having recovered from a long-term injury. And Jenkins has no doubts Faletau will be up to the task should he be thrown in from the off.

“Obviously he’s a class act – we know that from previous experiences,” said Jenkins. “He’s a fantastic player and brilliant to have in the group, in terms of his personality as well.

“It’s just brilliant to have him back and your best players you want available, and Taulupe certainly falls into that category. The boys who’ve had a few niggles have been training.

“He (Josh Adams) seems all right. He trained with us yesterday and will train with us today.

“Hopefully they’ll all come through unscathed and make themselves available for us on Saturday.”

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