Sports Awards 2012: Tiger Manu on way to being one of world's best
Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi is set to make the same kind of impact on the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards as he does on opposition defences.
The 21-year-old, a contender for the Sportsman of the Year trophy, has already made 37 appearances for Tigers and has 13 England caps to his name, with more to come this autumn.
His importance to the Tigers was highlighted in the recent Heineken Cup victory over the Ospreys at Welford Road.
His first try put Tigers back on level terms after they had fallen 10-0 behind.
Cheap Van Insurance(Commercial & Private Use) - Contact Insure365...View details
Cheap Van Insurance(Commercial & Private Use) - Contact Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Expenses Cover Included at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
His second, a delightful opportunist effort in the corner in the dying seconds, gave Leicester their fourth try in a 39-22 win – and a vital bonus point in the European competition.
Tuilagi has been selected in the England squad for the international matches against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand over the course of the next five weeks, confirming that he has a huge future in the game.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill believes he could develop into one of the game's biggest names.
He said: "Manu is quality and is still very young.
"Myself, Matt O'Connor (Tigers' head coach) and everyone here thinks he is going to be about 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."
Tuilagi is not about to rest on his laurels, either.
He has worked hard and intends to keep the pace high so that he can continue earning the rewards.
"I'm happy where I am at the moment," he said. "But as a player you always want to improve."
That isn't simply a matter of being consistent on the pitch whenever he pulls on a Tigers shirt or the England jersey.
"You have to make sure you do your homework and learn the plays," he said. "You have to learn new ones every week.
"If you want to be a good player you have to be on your game all the time, on and off the pitch."
There are 14 categories in the sports awards: sportsman, sportswoman, manager/ coach, team, under-19 team, club, young sportsman, young sportswoman, junior sportsman (14 and under), junior sportswoman, community, Active4Life, lifetime achievement and the Neville Hamilton Award.
To nominate an athlete or team, complete the form below. Nominations close on December 4.