Manu Tuilagi believes England have found their new Jonny Wilkinson after Owen Farrell produced an eye-catching debut as an international fly-half against Wales.
Farrell has heard comparisons with Wilkinson before but this was his first chance to prove he can inspire England wearing the same 10 jersey.
Although Wales eventually clinched a nailbiting 19-12 victory to win the Triple Crown, Twickenham was left purring by Farrell’s performance. The 20-year-old with the ice-cool temperament controlled England’s improved attacking game and kicked four penalties before he was forced off with cramp.
“I was very impressed with Owen. He can definitely inspire the team the way Jonny did,” Tuilagi said.
“The way he played, he controlled the ball really well, he kicked well. He’s definitely the guy who can take us forward. For a young guy coming into the team to produce a performance like that is just what you want from your players. I’m really proud of him.”
Tuilagi is also just 20 and made a marked difference to England’s attacking game on his return to the side following a fractured eye-socket and hamstring injury.
The Leicester juggernaut picked up where he left off in the World Cup - on the field - as he carried with purpose, time and again thrusting England on to the front foot.