Manu Tuilagi has revealed that staring down Tonga’s haka inspired his rampaging display in a 35-3 victory that launched England’s World Cup in unconvincing fashion.
Tuilagi stormed over for two first-half tries to indicate he will be Eddie Jones’ most potent attacking weapon in Japan, having finally overcome four injury-blighted years.
The 28-year-old of Samoan heritage took pride from facing his fellows Islanders as they performed their ritual challenge just before kick-off.
“It’s where I’m from. It’s a privilege to stand in front of the Tongan war dance,” Tuilagi said.
“It was brilliant. It definitely fired us all up for that game. It definitely fired me up watching that. It was good to be standing in front of it. It’s an unbelievable experience.
“I haven’t done that before. I’ve only played Fiji before – the Cibi – but the first time against Tonga was unreal.”
Tuilagi’s ability to scatter defenders was the highlight of an underwhelming performance that saw the bonus points secured with just three minutes to spare.
“We got the five points we needed, now we can move on and focus on the USA,” Tuilagi said.
“There were some small mistakes and some discipline to tidy up. Just little bits, but important bits. We’ll put it right.
“For me there is still a lot to learn from that game, but we will learn from it and put it bed and then all the focus will be on the USA. I hope there will be more to come.”