Update: 9:25AM DAN Cole insists Vereniki Goneva is a worthy replacement for crocked Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi as the Fijian continues to impress this Aviva Premiership campaign, writes Sacha Clayton.
British & Irish
Lion Tuilagi's comeback from his success Down Under lasted just one game,
against Newcastle Falcons, before the England powerhouse tore his pectoral muscle
and now faces two months on the sidelines.
Despite having been
deployed mainly as wing, Goneva has played half his games this season at 13 and
scored a try on both occasions.
And England prop Cole
believes no one at Welford Road questioned Goneva's centre credentials when the
news of Tuilagi's setback broke.
"Niki is just a great
player no matter where you put him and he has shown that whether he has played
out on the wing or in the centre this season," he said.
someone like Manu would be a blow to any team but we are fortunate that we have
players like Niki who can come in and ease that blow.
"He has played
international rugby at 13 before so no one doubted he could do the job in the
Leicester welcome arch-rivals
Northampton Saints to Welford Road on Saturday in a repeat of last year's Aviva
And Cole admits he
can't wait to get going again against Jim Mallinder's men.
"We always look
forward to playing against Saints and these games are the reasons why you play
rugby really," he added.
"Going on last year's
performance we are the best two teams in the country and we are local rivals so
it should be one to remember.
"They have a good
forward pack and like to use it and I am expecting a busy game."