Maro Itoje has warned England’s World Cup rivals that Manu Tuilagi is an “absolute monster” after overcoming numerous injury problems to help his country destroy Ireland in record-breaking style 57-15 at Twickenham on Saturday.
Try-scorer Tuilagi put in a man of the match performance in the No13 jersey normally worn by the injured Henry Slade. Playing outside the rekindled 10/12 axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell, the rejuvenated Leicester midfielder showed what England missed during the lengthy period he was kept out of the game by serious injuries.
Head coach Eddie Jones believes there is still 20 per cent more to come in terms of the Tuilagi’s fitness and Itoje is excited about what that could mean for England who are in a tough World Cup pool with France, Argentina, Tonga and USA.
Fresh from putting in one of his own most complete performances ever for England, the try-scoring Itoje said: “Manu is an awesome player, extremely talented and when he is at his best he is an absolute monster,” he told RugbyPass.
“It is great to have him in our side. I have played against him a couple of times at club level and I know how deadly he can be.”
Itoje’s eminence helped turn the Ireland lineout into a disaster area and the lock paid tribute to the coaching of assistant Steve Borthwick and the input from back-up second rows Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels in helping to formulate the plan that resulted in the Lions forward and George Kruis, his fellow Saracens jumper, dominate this key area at Twickenham.
“It is a reflection of the work the lineout leaders have done throughout the week and we have a fantastic coach in Steve Borthwick,” said Itoje with less than a month now to go before the start of the World Cup in Japan.
It's thumbs up for so many England players following their Twickenham destruction of Ireland
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 24, 2019
“It was a lot better than last week (against Wales in Cardiff) and we just want to keep improving. Today was a good win but we’re not the finished article and there is so much more to come.
“This was Ireland’s first competitive game [they had beaten Italy on August 10], so we know they are not at their best. The challenge is for us to do this wherever we go and we are in a good place.”
Reflecting on Tuilagi’s performance, coach Jones said: “Manu is in a good place and is making coffee for everyone. He is about 80 per cent fit and there is a bit to go and when he gets there he will be a handful. It will be scary to mark him.
“That is a step up from the Wales game and there is a lot more in us. We got some good ball, we used this combination before and knew it would work. He can play 12 or 13 and Ireland were a bit soft in their defence and line speed.”
WATCH: Part one of Operation Jaypan, the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what the fans can expect to experience at the World Cup finals in Japan
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