The youngest of six brothers in the Samoan rugby dynasty to have played for Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi has wasted no time in making an indelible impression.
He scored five tries, including two against both Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks, in his first ten Aviva Premiership matches up to the end of January and after being chosen for the 2011 England Under 20 squad was elevated to the Saxons as an injury replacement for Mathew Tait, of Sale Sharks.
Manu made a try-scoring debut in the 45-17 win over Italy A at Worcester in late January and was also in the starting line up six days later against Ireland Wolfhounds at Ravenhill, Belfast.
Born in the village of Fatausi –Fogapoa, Manu has risen through the England age group ranks, playing for the under 16s and 18s. Four of his older siblings, Fereti (Freddie), Henry, Alesana, known as Alex, and Anitelea, better known as Andy, have represented Samoa but Manu’s allegiance lies with England after seven years in this country.
His ambitions to don the Red Rose jersey in a full international appeared to be dashed last summer when the Home Office ruled he would not be allowed to stay in the UK, having arrived on a six-month holiday visa and stayed on ever since. He faced the threat of deportation but a campaign on his behalf prompted a successful appeal against the Home Office ruling.
The Tigers had considered the option of letting him leave the country to win caps for Samoa but Manu insisted he wanted to play for England. His reprieve was made possible by his Club, the RFU and three local MPs, Edward Garnier, Keith Vaz and Andrew Robathan, supported by a local media and Facebook campaign. So he became free to concentrate on his efforts on the field without anxiety about his residency status.
Manu has already scored a try at Twickenham for John Cleveland College, Hinckley, who beat Hampton School in the Daily Mail Under 18 Vase final two years ago. Already, he has shown his physical prowess, a vivid ‘show and go’, and a subtle rugby brain since being absorbed into the Leicester Tigers Academy system.
His Premiership debut was off the bench against Northampton Saints last September but he had appeared against the Classic All Blacks back in 2008 and qualified for England after living in the country for more than the stipulated three years.