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Wales wary of Tuilagi but another English Lion's on the radar

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Neil Jenkins says Wales know they must “muscle-up” against Manu Tuilagi when he makes his expected England return on Saturday.

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The powerhouse centre has recently recovered from a hamstring injury and is poised for a first Test match appearance since England’s Autumn Nations Series game against world champions South Africa in November.

Wales assistant coach and skills specialist Jenkins worked with Tuilagi on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, and he is fully aware of his threat.

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“We need to be mindful of what Manu brings,” Jenkins said.

“He is a very, very good rugby player and very physical. He brings a lot to England when he does play.

“It will be a little bit different with Manu playing, there is no doubting that. Whether he is carrying or a decoy runner, he certainly attracts defenders either way.

“They can use him in a couple of different ways if they need to, and I am sure they will on Saturday.

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“One thing is simple, we have to muscle-up on him and show our intent.”

Jenkins also has Lions experience from last summer’s South Africa trip of gifted England fly-half talent Marcus Smith, who is set to oppose Wales for the first time this weekend.

The Harlequins playmaker has made a storming start to his international career, and Jenkins added: “He is a very talented player who seems to have a lot of time on the ball.

“He puts people in holes or is goose-stepping and taking you on. There is his kicking game as well, so he is a big threat to us and one we will have to keep a close eye on.

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“It’s a big defensive week for us, as it is with our attack and kicking game and set-piece. There is going to be no hiding place on Saturday, and we are going to have to be ready in every department.”

Wales have not beaten England in the Six Nations at Twickenham since 2012, although they revived title hopes by defeating Scotland last time out after a tame opening weekend loss to Ireland.

“When you look back on history, you don’t tend to remember the performance, you remember the win. That’s what Test match rugby is all about,” Jenkins said.

“I always like to think we get better as the tournament progresses.

“We will certainly have to be at our best on Saturday and front-up in all areas and take the game to England as best as we possibly can.”

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