England midfielder Manu Tuilagi says his side’s tournament-opening win over Ireland on Saturday was “probably tougher” than beating the All Blacks in 2012.

A 21-year-old Tuilagi was instrumental in England’s 38-21 victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham in 2012, scoring a try and setting up two more inside a memorable ten-minute period.

Saturday’s match was his first Six Nations start since 2013 after being plagued by injury since that 2012 victory.

In an interview on England’s official website Tuilagi said that beating Ireland in Dublin was “massive” and “right up there” in terms of career highlights.

“It’s the first game, Ireland are the best team in Europe and second in the world,” Tuilagi said. “It’s probably tougher than that win against New Zealand because you don’t have many teams that come to Ireland and win.”

Video Spacer

Tuilagi, now 27, was again instrumental against Ireland with a couple of strong charges leading to Jonny May’s opening try inside two minutes.

“It was just the right play at that time and fair play to the forwards, we said we would keep Ireland down there right from the off,” Tuilagi said.

“That got us the lineout and that was the right call at that moment. It came early, you don’t know when it’s going to come but I was glad to get into the game as quick as I did.”

Tuilagi earned a starting berth in the No. 12 jersey after regular starter Ben Te’o was ruled out through injury.

“It was nice to be out there, especially to start. It’s unfortunate for big Ben but it was nice to enjoy the atmosphere right from the off.”

Tuilagi and England continue their Six Nations campaign next weekend against France.

Rugby World Cup City Guides – Kumamoto:

Video Spacer

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now