Tuilagi is the latest monster in England's midfield with Johnson to hand him Test debut

Manu Tuilagi will make his Test debut for England at Twickenham on Saturday in another giant step towards forcing his way into the World Cup squad.

Leicester’s explosive 20-year-old Anglo-Samoan centre will line up against Wales in the Investec international — the first of three World Cup warm-up games.

His selection will also confirm his full recovery from the disciplinary setback of a five-week ban for punching England team-mate Chris Ashton during a fiery East Midlands derby between the Tigers and Northampton.

Hard man: Manu Tuilagi can become England's monster

Hard man: Manu Tuilagi can become England's monster

Tuilagi’s three-punch onslaught forced him to miss the Aviva Premiership final, which Leicester lost to Saracens.

But Martin Johnson, the England manager, had seen more than enough to select the 16st 8lb powerhouse in a provisional 45-man squad which was reduced to 40 at the weekend.

Now he has an opportunity to enhance his soaring prospects of going to New Zealand by claiming the outside centre berth against Wales, in a midfield partnership with Riki Flutey.

This centre pairing will be the 10th fielded by Johnson in 31 Tests.

Flashpoint: Tuilagi proves to England team-mate Chris Ashton that he packs a punch

Flashpoint: Tuilagi proves to England team-mate Chris Ashton that he packs a punch


Born: Samoa. Age: 20.
Height: 6ft 1in. Weight: 16st 8lb.
Club: Leicester (20 games, seven tries).
2010-11: Discovery of the year and Rugby Players’ Association young player of the year.

Elsewhere, Saracens prop Matt Stevens is poised to start at tighthead to mark his own recovery from a two-year ban for cocaine use.

He will be joined in the front row by Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley and London Irish loosehead Alex Corbisiero.

Courtney Lawes is unlikely to start in the second row after suffering a neck injury in last week’s trial match, while Lewis Moody will lead the team from openside and James Haskell is a contender to start at No 8.

Neck injury: Courtney Lawes

Neck injury: Courtney Lawes

Delon Armitage starts at full back ahead of Ben Foden and Matt Banahan reverts to the wing in place of Chris Ashton.

Ben Youngs’ absence following knee surgery allows Danny Care to claim the scrum-half berth, with Jonny Wilkinson at No 10.

England team to play Wales:

D Armitage (London Irish); M Banahan (Bath Rugby), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), R Flutey (London Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); J Wilkinson (Toulon), D Care (Harlequins); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), M Stevens (Saracens), S Shaw (Unattached),
T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), L Moody (Bath Rugby, capt), J Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath Rugby), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), M Botha (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton Saints), R Wigglesworth (Saracens),
C Hodgson (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby).

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