Tuilagi honoured to partner BOD

Manu Tuilagi says it will be an honour to line up alongside matchday captain Brian O'Driscoll when he makes his British & Irish Lions debut on Wednesday. [more]

Tuilagi honoured to partner BOD

Manu Tuilagi says it will be an honour to line up alongside matchday captain Brian O’Driscoll when he makes his British & Irish Lions debut on Wednesday.

Tuilagi has been named at inside centre for the second game of the tour against the Western Force in Perth, with quadruple tourist O’Driscoll partnering the Leicester youngster in midfield.

The England international was just 10 when O’Driscoll made his Lions bow in the same city back in 2001 and he admits it is slightly surreal to now be playing with the Irishman having watched him make such an impression the last time The Lions were Down Under.

“I remember Brian’s try against Australia (in the first Test in Brisbane in ‘01), so it’s amazing to play alongside him,” said Tuilagi.

“He’s a legend and I can’t wait to play with him. For me, it’s an honour to be selected and be playing with a legend like him.

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“Everything Brian says, I’ll do it! We just have to stick to our game plan and hopefully it will go well. You have to make the right decisions for the team – to carry or give the ball etc. It’s not about the individual, it’s about winning these games.

“I’m very excited. Saturday’s game went really well, the boys who played set the bar really high and it’s an opportunity for us players on Wednesday to keep that bar high.

“It’s my first Lions tour so I am just taking everything in and trying to make the most of this experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Tuilagi usually wears the No13 shirt for club and country but head coach Warren Gatland has moved him one step closer to the action with The Lions.

It’s a switch that Tuilagi intends to take in his stride and one that could provide further evidence that there is more subtlety to his game than his harshest critics might suggest.

“It won’t be a big difference. I will just play my normal game,” added Tuilagi.

“Playing at 12 is different to playing at 13, but not massively different. It’s just one place closer to the 10 where I can get more ball and hopefully get more involved in the game.

“I will do a bit more talking and passing – directing the forwards and telling them what to do.

“I try to develop my skills in training and learn about the game, but on the field you’ve got to play to your strengths, that means – for me – carrying the ball and making the yards.”

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