'Do your own job' Tuilagi tells England ahead of New Zealand semi-final

Tokyo (AFP) –


England centre Manu Tuilagi accepts a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in this weekend represents the "biggest game of our lives".

But the powerhouse midfielder said the lingering lesson of his best day in a Red Rose shirt seven years ago was that England could beat the All Blacks without playing "amazing" rugby.

Tuilagi's injury-blighted career, with groin problems repeatedly laying him low, means he has featured in just 38 Tests for England since a 2011 debut, albeit he has still scored 16 tries.

The highlight arguably came during England's last win over New Zealand, at Twickenham in 2012.

Having gone 15-0 up, England found their lead cut to just a point early in the second half only for Tuilagi to cap a brilliant display with the third of three England tries in eight minutes either side of the hour mark as the hosts surged to a 38-21 victory.

England have won just seven of their 41 Tests against New Zealand and many believe something extraordinary is needed to beat any All Blacks side, let alone one bidding for a third successive World Cup title as will be the case in Yokohama on Saturday.

But Tuilagi, recalling what went right for England seven years ago, believes the key to victory on Saturday is relatively straightforward.

"Everyone just doing their job, not doing anything amazing," he says.

"It was all about each player, 1 to 23, doing their job as well as they can. And that is exactly what we need to do this weekend, just focus on your own job and do it the best you can.

"Then the performance will take care of itself."

- 'Right balance' -

The 28-year-old Leicester centre admitted it was difficult to strike the balance between being fully prepared come kick-off and not expending too much emotional energy in the days leading up to the match.

"Excited to be fair," said Tuilagi when asked about the mood in the England camp. "It's probably the biggest game of our lives.

"It's tough trying to get yourselves in the right place mentally and physically.

"You try and build slowly from Monday up to kick-off. You've just got to get the balance right," he added.

"Being excited but also clear and controlled.

Meanwhile in-form England flanker Sam Underhill, one of the stars of a 40-16 quarter-final win over Australia, praised coach Eddie Jones for keeping things simple rather than attempting to "artificially create belief in a group".

"For us it's an accumulation of 120 days, all of that pre-World Cup camp, pre-World Cup games," Underhill said.

"That is where our belief comes from."

Jones was the coach of his native Australia when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England and a consultant to the South Africa side crowned champions four years later in France.

He was also the coach of the Japan side that in 2015 created the biggest upset in World Cup history with a 34-32 win over the Springboks in the 'Miracle of Brighton'.

But Underhill said the key to Jones's success was not so much his World Cup experience but rather the way he "makes the big things small and the small things big".

"He makes things as straightforward as they can be...that means you can free yourself up on the pitch and enjoy yourself," he added.