England’s powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi is looking forward to receiving the haka with what he feels is due respect.
“It’s an honour to stand there in front of the haka and accept the challenge,” he said in Tokyo yesterday.
“You respect it. I grew up watching it on TV and to finally stand in front of it is amazing.”
"Growing up with my brothers, it wasn't hard to look for heroes and inspiration, but definitely I wanted to play like Jonah."— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) October 23, 2019
Manu Tuilagi inspired by All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu ahead of Rugby World Cup semi-final: https://t.co/y5tLQjoRCL #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/8Xu0yXl2js
Asked whether he attempted to emulate the blockbusting wing, who scored four tries in the semifinal, including one after famously running over the top of England defender Mike Catt, Tuilagi replied: “You try but you don’t succeed.”
Tuilagi insists England must match the All Blacks for physicality if they are to have any chance of victory.
He said: “They’re a very physical team and we’ve got to match that and try to stop them.
“If they get on top of you, it’s very hard to stop their attack. We’ve got a massive job to do on that front.
“But this group of players is probably the tightest an England squad has ever been. We know just how important the game is — but we don’t want to let that overwhelm us.
“We’ve got a game plan, we’ve got to be clear on it. We are going up against the best in the world and this really is do or die.”
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England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Jordie Barrett
Venue: International Stadium, Yokohama
Kick-off: 17:00 (09:00 BST, 08:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Pascal Gaüzère (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)