Manu Tuilagi has revealed staring down Tonga’s haka inspired his rampaging display in a 35-3 victory that launched England’s World Cup campaign.
The 28-year-old of Samoan heritage took pride from facing his fellow 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.