Manu Tuilagi can become best in the world, says Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill
Manu Tuilagi could be the best outside-centre in the world within the next 12 months.
That's the view of Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
The 21-year-old scored two tries, made a host of clean line breaks and shrugged off tackles for fun to the delight of more than 19,000 supporters at Welford Road on Saturday.
The 17st centre, who has already been capped 13 times by England, scored a brace to help Tigers to a 34-26 win over battling Worcester Warriors and gave them a maximum 10 points from their first two Aviva Premiership games.
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Cockerill believes Tuilagi is continuing to improve.
"Manu has had his criticism but, within our structure, he has been really good," said Cockerill.
"He gets opportunities to run with the ball and his ability to create something from nothing is as good as ever.
"He is quality and is still very young. Myself, Matt O'Connor and everyone here thinks he is going to be around the best No.13 in world rugby within the next 12 months or so.
"We are delighted to have him here, he is a quality player. He needs to keep playing and further understand when to hold on and when to pass it; when to be tighter in defence and when to be a little bit more passive – but that will come.
"He is quality and we have some real firepower out there in the backs. We just need to harness it and make it accurate."
Cockerill was satisfied with his side's win and enthused by Tigers' ability to create opportunities at will.
A first-half double from Tuilagi was added to by scores after the break from Vereniki Goneva, Graham Kitchener and a penalty try.
But several opportunities also went begging and Cockerill says they must finish those chances much better when they take on Saracens at Wembley next Saturday.
"It was a perfect start for us if you look at the table but it was a far from perfect performance against Worcester," said Cockerill.
"We did some really good things and we are creating a lot of opportunities but we need to finish more of them.
"We kept turning over the ball and giving away field position and silly penalties."