Manu Tuilagi inspired by Jonah Lomu ahead of Rugby World Cup semi-final

23 October 2019, 07:48 | Updated: 23 October 2019, 11:56

Manu Tuilagi grew up wanting to play like New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu, but now the England centre hopes to prove himself on the world stage against the All Blacks.

Tuilagi, who has played a starring role in England's route to Saturday's World Cup semi-final against the world champions, was just four years old the last time the two teams met in the last four at the 1995 World Cup.

Lomu cemented his legendary status that day, scoring four tries as New Zealand ran out 45-29 winners in Cape Town.

Despite growing up in Samoa surrounded by five rugby-playing brothers, there was just one man who Tuilagi wanted to be.

"He [Lomu] is a legend of the game. Growing up with my brothers, it wasn't hard to look for heroes and inspiration, but definitely I wanted to play like Jonah.

"Growing up in Samoa, rugby is everywhere, you play every day. Mostly touch rugby every evening and at school, but it's like a Test every day, it's very competitive.

"I always look to my brothers for advice. I remember my first game for England, I rang all my brothers and they said: 'Just play your game and be yourself'.

"It's been a rocky road but it's all worth it in the end."

Speaking about New Zealand, Tuilagi said: "It's a tough test every time you go up against the All Blacks. This weekend is no different.

"You want to play against the best and test yourself. This is the place you want to be. You dream of it as a young kid, being involved on the big stage. Now you're here, you have got to embrace it."