Berliner Tageblatt - Tuilagi hopes 'to do family name justice' before first start for France

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Tuilagi hopes 'to do family name justice' before first start for France
Tuilagi hopes 'to do family name justice' before first start for France / Photo: © AFP/File

Tuilagi hopes 'to do family name justice' before first start for France

The Tuilagi surname has been synonymous with rugby from Leicester in England all the way to Samoa in the Pacific Ocean for decades and Sunday will mark an even bigger part of the name's history in France.

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After two appearances as a replacement, Perpignan lock Posolo Tuilagi, 19, will make his first international start against Italy in the Six Nations, 15 years after his father Henry played his final game for the Pacific Islanders.

Five of Posolo's uncles have also featured at the highest level, their physicality bringing fear into the eyes of opponents across the world.

Freddie, Alesana, Andy and Sanele have represented clubs like Leicester and Sale as well as Samoa while Manu, who travelled to Marseille to watch his nephew's debut off the bench against Ireland, may well be lining up in the opposition if Posolo is picked to play against England in the Six Nations concluder in Lyon on March 16.

"It's a name I carry with pride and honour," Posolo told AFP this week.

"I come from a family with a great heritage in the rugby world.

"I try and do it justice," he added.

Posolo, who weighs an impressive 145kg and stands at a daunting 1.92m, was born in Samoa before moving to Leicester as his dad joined the Tigers in 2007.

Four years later, the family then moved to Perpignan in the south of France as Henry joined the Catalan outfit.

Fridge-sized Posolo came through their youth academy set-up before making his club debut in September 2020.

His older brother, Henry Junior, plays centre for French third-tier club Perigueux, and his 15-year-old brother is part of Perpignan’s youth set-up.

"He's already the same height as me but is 125-130kgs," Posolo said.

"I hope one day we can have a second-row partnership made of Tuilagis!" he added.

- Weight struggles -

Posolo made his France debut in early February coming off the bench in the heavy defeat to Ireland after being a late call-up to Romain Taofifenua.

He then featured for 30 minutes as a replacement in the Scotland win a week later.

Before his Test bow, the moustachioed forward had played just 30 senior games for Perpignan.

"What hit me was the intensity of the matches. It's not the same as what I’ve experienced up to now," Posolo said.

"They're matches played at a high intensity, you sprint 80 percent of the match or even more, the collisions are harder, tougher, but I like that!" he added with a smile.

One of the main characteristics of the Tuilagi family is their mountain-like size and Posolo is of the same build, thanks to his love of root vegetable taro, eaten widely in Samoa.

"It was William Servat (France assistant coach) who explained whatever the weight I am, I have to be happy in everyday life," said Posolo, who was a member of the France team that won the world under-20s championship last year.

"I have battled a lot with my weight, so to hear that gave me confidence.

"I try to eat less in the evening, no carbohydrates, In the evening, it's protein and vegetables," he added.

This weekend Posolo will line up alongside Cameron Woki in the France second-row as the dynamic Racing 92 lock makes his 30th Les Bleus appearance, aged 25.

"He has a different profile to me. He's taken me under his wing, I admire him," Posolo said.

"When I'm here, I keep my ears open and I take in everything I can.

"Little by little I hope to improve as a player and improve as a person," he added.