England's Manusamoa Tuilagi ran the All Blacks ragged.
One of England's best players in their historic defeat of
the All Blacks at Twickenham this morning was born in the
village of Moto'otua, Samoa.
Manu Tuilagi, the Leicester and England centre, was
outstanding in the 38-21 victory.
Such was his dominance, he outshone two of the men tasked
with marking him - Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu - and in fact
made the pair, both world-class players, look a little
ordinary at times. He scored two converted tries and set up
Chris Ashton and Brad Barritt for others.
The first many New Zealanders knew of the 21-year-old was in
last year's World Cup. The tournament had an unhappy ending
for him - he was fined by team management for jumping from a
ferry into the Waitemata Harbour after a day out on Waiheke
Island - but he was one of the few among the English who
emerged from the World Cup with their on-field reputations
He brought new meaning to the word "direct" - both on offence
and defence - and was a rare jewel for England; he was a back
wearing white worth watching.
After the World Cup, in the bowels of Eden Park, following
England's World Cup quarter-final loss to France, Tuilagi,
then 20 and the youngest player to represent England at the
global tournament, spoke of going back to Leicester and
continuing his progress.
"It means everything [playing for England], just knowing that
everyone's behind you and supporting you - all of England and
all the Samoan people as well," he said of playing in front
of his many supporters. "Thank you to all of them for the
Tuilagi speaks with an English accent because he moved to the
country as a 13-year-old. He is one of seven brothers, six of
whom are rugby players. Henry, Freddie, Alesana, Anitelea and
Sanele are Manu's elders in the Tuilagi family and all have
played for Samoa.
They are a remarkable sporting family but the young Tuilagi's
ascent to the top has probably been the most dramatic. Two
years ago he was at the risk of being deported because he had
entered England on a six-month tourist visa and had stayed
As a 19-year-old the Home Office wanted him out before making
a U-turn after a plea from his Leicester Tigers club and
thousands of people who signed a petition.
He said then after receiving the good news: "I always wanted
to stay in Leicester. I went to school in this area and my
friends are here.
"It is a big day for me to be told this good news and now I
can concentrate on my rugby career with Leicester Tigers."
Now he is the toast of England for putting the world
champions to the sword.