2012 and 2019 memories loom large for Tuilagi

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Samoan-born centre Manu Tuilagi said only those involved knew how genuine their conviction was, and it was something they had to have to succeed. He was in no doubt England would have that conviction.

Since winning the World Cup in 2003, England has only beaten the All Blacks twice, in 2012 and at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Tuilagi made an impact for his adopted country in both games.

The 2012 win is best associated with his bullocking running to create tries for others.

"One of the best games that I was involved in. I love seeing it," he told The Guardian.

"I was so young back then but, I remember it like it was yesterday."

Tuilagi, 31, with 48 Tests behind him, said Stuart Lancaster, the England coach at the time, was happy for him to play on his instincts. But since then, he had learned to relish his role in the side's structure.

"I probably understand the game a lot more. I think I played a bit more off instinct which is natural as a young lad, but now I understand the game plan. I understand the need to execute the game plan, and I have a role to play in that.

"But the enjoyment of the game has not changed."

England went into the 2012 game on the back of losses to Australia and South Africa, and building belief ahead of the All Blacks game was a big part of their strategy.

"That week, we just talked about belief, and I think that word is massive. You have got to believe in yourself.

"You've got to believe that you're going to win otherwise your mindset is going in there and hoping it will happen.

"You've got to have the mindset of imposing our game on them, not the other way around."

Tuilagi has also been building the belief of the younger players who haven't played the All Blacks.

He explained that the haka was one of the most amazing things to see.

"Standing in front of it. To witness the history of that country being displayed in front of you is amazing. It lays down the challenge and you've got to accept it."

Getting the message to those younger players about what was ahead came down to reassuring them they were good enough to be in the side.

"You're the best in the country," he tells them.

"Nothing is going to be perfect. If you're lucky enough to play a perfect game, that's a bonus.

"But do your role, your job as well, and take things on, take the game on. It's a good challenge to have.

"I don't think that there are many things in life where you have to take on the physical and the mental at the same time, but in sport you have the opportunity to do that."


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