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All Blacks to test out Tuilagi on the wing

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Update: 1:41PM Big and powerful but can he jump?

The positional play and aerial skills of bulldozing England centre Manu Tuilagi are set for close examination from the All Blacks after the tourists named him on the right wing for the second Test in Dunedin.

The Samoan-born 23-year-old will make his first Test start in the position on Saturday to create room for England's Six Nations midfield of Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees.

His clash with fellow-behemoth Julian Savea, who returns from injury on the New Zealand left wing, is one to savour.

However, it's the subtle elements of wing play rather than the power-based skills which All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wants to expose.

"On the wing he's going to have to work," he said.

"Wing's a totally different position to centre in that he can go wherever he wants to go but he's got to have the energy to do that."

The selection is a bold one from England coach Stuart Lancaster as Tuilagi has been a major handful in his last two Tests against the All Blacks, both times in the No.13 jersey.

He was heavily involved in all their three tries when England beat New Zealand 38-21 in London 18 months ago.

Last week he shrugged off tacklers regularly during the All Blacks' 20-15 first-Test win in Auckland.

Savea says he relishes the chance to lock horns with Tuilagi while All Blacks first five-eighth Aaron Cruden hints it will prompt some tactical tweaks.

"He's a natural midfielder who hasn't played much wing so maybe we'd put a few (kicks) up on him and test him early," he said.

Another issue in the team strategy room will be devising a plan to tackle the 110kg powerhouse.

"He's really thick in the legs. As a young fella you're taught to go low and drop him there but it doesn't seem to work against him."

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