England have the next Nonu - Eddie Jones

Manu Tuilagi. Photo / Getty
Manu Tuilagi. Photo / Getty

England coach Eddie Jones believes Manu Tuilagi is the next Ma'a Nonu.

Jones will move Tuilagi from centre to second five-eighths when the powerhouse Leicester back plays his first test since June 2014.

"If you look at it purely on athleticism between Manu and Ma'a Nonu, Manu is not behind Nonu at all," Jones said in the Daily Mail. "He starts in a good situation and then it's a matter of how hard you work at your game and how desperate you are to want to play for England.

"I think 12's his best position, yes. He's not a 13. That's what I know he's not. He's definitely a 12. He can carry the ball across the gain line.

"He threw a beautiful left to right pass on Friday night, threw a terrible right to left, so maybe he's left handed, I don't know.

"But he's got the ability to catch and pass. I haven't seen him kick but there's no reason he can't learn to kick. We have a reasonable kicking mentor (Jonny Wilkinson) here. He's got all the attributes to be an outstanding 12."

Nonu started his All Black career briefly as an outside centre, and was often a reserve, before commanding the No. 12 jersey and becoming a great of the game. His development as a tactical kicker came late in his career.

There is a battle going on between country and club over whether Tuilagi will be fit for a March 12 date with Wales. Tuilagi, who destroyed the All Blacks at Twickenham four years ago, has had a longstanding groin problem and a recent hamstring issue.

Jones has been blunt about another inside back contender Luther Burrell.

"The reason I left him (Burrell) out in the first place was because he wasn't good enough to be in the squad. He had flaws in his game and was making a lot of mistakes. I think he's done that brilliantly and looks like he's getting better every day."

- NZ Herald

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