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Tuilagi looking forward to facing Wales backs

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Article Published: Friday 24 February 2012

England centre Manu Tuilagi says he is looking forward to running straight at the Wales backs in this weekend's Six Nations international at Twickenham.

A finger injury that ruled out fly-half Charlie Hodgson led interim coach Stuart Lancaster to re-arrange his back division with the result that powerful Samoa-born centre Tuilagi finds himself going up against one of the most physically imposing back divisions in the tournament.

"For me, playing rugby is about being physical and Wales have got massive backs, so this is the game I want to play in," Tuilagi, who boasts an impressive record of four tries in just seven Tests, said on Thursday.

The Leicester powerhouse hasn't featured for England since the World Cup, with a combination of eye socket and hamstring injuries sidelining him from wins away to Scotland and Italy in the first two rounds of this Six Nations.

Lancaster has set great store in restoring the battered reputation of an England team embarrassed at the World Cup by such incidents as Tuilagi's leap off a ferry into Auckland harbour the day after the team's quarter-final loss to France.

But last week a contrite Tuilagi insisted he'd "grown up fast" and now he is set to star in an England back division where fellow 20-year-old Owen Farrell, the goalkicking hero of the 19-15 win away to Italy last time out, has taken Hodgson's place at fly-half.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Tuilagi said. "Playing those two games for Leicester really helped me because there's a big difference between being fit to run around and being match-fit."

Tuilagi, given his England debut by former boss Martin Johnson, who resigned after the World Cup, added: "It doesn't feel very different.

"Of course it's a different gameplan but I just want to get the ball in my hands and run.

"Rugby is simple really- you've just got to keep the ball and score points- hopefully!"

As for linking up with Farrell, Tuilagi said: "I played with 'Faz' in the England Under-18s, so I know him pretty well.

"I'm really looking forward to playing with him again. He's a good lad and cool-headed, so I'm not surprised hes really confident to kick the points and win games for England."

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