England scrum-half Ben Youngs believes if his side are to beat the All Blacks they are going to need ‘game-changers’ like Manu Tuilagi.
Eddie Jones named Tuilagi in his 25-man squad announced on Tuesday to face New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday, with the centre not having played for the Red Rose for two-and-a-half years due to injury.
And Youngs has welcomed the 27-year-old’s Test return, saying he looks in fine fettle, while hailing his influence on the squad.
“We know what a world-class operator Manu is,” Youngs told Sky Sports.
“Seeing him in your team settles the boys down knowing he is there. It was great to see him running round today. He is looking good.
“You need game-breakers don’t you? You know against New Zealand you’re going to have score tries, simply trying to slot penalties probably isn’t going to be enough because of the threat they pose.
“So having guys like him and other guys is vital because you need guys that are going to be game changers or game-breakers and he’s certainly one of those guys, so he’s going to be important if he’s involved.”
Tuilagi was meant to return to action in last weekend’s narrow 12-11 victory over the Springboks, but was a late withdrawal from the matchday 23 with a minor groin strain.
“He’s looking good in training but I don’t make those decisions if he plays or not, I just know what he’s capable of and I’m sure if he’s given the opportunity that he would be able to certainly give us a lot of go-forward and be a key cog to this team,” added Youngs.
Tuilagi will forever be remembered for his dazzling display in the 38-21 triumph over the All Blacks at Twickenham in 2012. And Youngs says there is a strong belief in the squad that they could replicate a similar sort of performance.
“Our belief is very good,” he said. “We’re really excited about the opportunity and I’m very excited and I know that my team-mates echo that as well. We’re looking forward to being at Twickenham and we’re in a good place.
“I think it’s important to recognise that there’s a reason they’ve been so dominant for years.
“They’re highly successful, you can’t hide away from that but it’s important you really focus on what we can do.
“We don’t want to get lost in what they do and how they play and everything like that.
“We want to make sure that we give the best account of ourselves and how that is, is making sure we get our game-plan clarity absolute right and then we’re able to execute on Saturday.”