Centre Manu Tuilagi says England are relishing the challenge of facing ‘the best team in the world’ in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final in Yokohama.
England and the All Blacks will do battle for a place in the World Cup final and Tuilagi says it will be the biggest game of the English players’ lives.
‘We are going against the best in the world. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. It is the biggest game of our lives,’ he said, adding it is always a honour to face the haka and accept the challenge laid down by New Zealand.
‘We are going against the best in the world. They are a quality team and we are looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be tough but these are the games you want to play. This is do or die.’
The 28-year-old Tuilagi stressed that although there is excitement in the group, come Saturday they would be clear and controlled in executing their game plan.
‘This group of players, I’d say, is probably as tight as this squad has ever been. We are all rooting for each other. We are all pulling in the same direction.
‘We know how important the game is but we obviously don’t want to let that overwhelm us and affect us. We’ve got a game plan and we have to be clear on that and be emotionally excited but we’ve got to have the control on the pitch,’ he added.
‘I go back to having that focus of doing your own job. If you do that well, the performance will take care of itself. For us going on the field on Saturday, we will look after each other. That’s going to take us through the tough times.’
Tuilagi says he will enjoy the big occasion particularly after enduring a few injury-ridden seasons.
‘You have got enjoy every moment and this is a big moment.
‘Sometimes you forget with everything going on – when you really think about it – this is a dream come true and you’ve got to enjoy every moment of it. If you enjoy it, then it will allow you to do your job.’
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